From the legendary editor who helped shape modern cookbook publishing-one of the food world's most admired figures-comes this evocative and inspiring memoir.
Living in Paris after World War II, Jones broke free of bland American food and reveled in everyday French culinary delights. On returning to the States she published Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The rest is publishing and gastronomic history. A new world now opened up to Jones as she discovered, with her husband Evan, the delights of American food, publishing some of the premier culinary luminaries of the twentieth century: from Julia Child, James Beard, and M.F.K. Fisher to Claudia Roden, Edna Lewis, and Lidia Bastianich. Here also are fifty of Jones's favorite recipes collected over a lifetime of cooking-each with its own story and special tips. The Tenth Muse is an absolutely charming memoir by a woman who was present at the creation of the American food revolution and played a pivotal role in shaping it.
The title of this testament to one woman's appetite comes from Brillat-Savarin, who wrote of a 10th muse--Gasterea, goddess of the pleasures of taste. Many food writers would argue that this 10th muse is actually Judith Jones. For nearly half a century, Jones, an editor of literary fiction and a senior vice-president at Knopf, has served as midwife to some of the most culturally significant cookbooks of our time, introducing readers to newly discovered talents like Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey and Claudia Roden, to name but a few. In this quiet, spare memoir, set against the shifting landscape of modern cookery in America, Jones reveals herself to be every bit as evangelical about good food and honest cooking as her authors, locating the points where her relationships with these writer-gastronomes and her own gustatory education converged. She ran an illegal restaurant in Paris, learned from Julia Child to de-tendon a goose (a set of maneuvers involving a broomstick), received a tutorial in fresh-bagged squirrel from Edna Lewis and counted James Beard among her mentors. At the end, the book is tinged with sadness over the decline of serious home cooking and the current fixation on dishing up fast and easy mediocrities. But Jones's belief in the primordial importance of cooking well is ultimately inspiring, and it fires these pages as it has fired her life. (Oct.)
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October 13, 2008
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Excerpt from The Tenth Muse by Judith Jones
Chapter One: Growing Up When my mother was well into her nineties, she announced that she had an important question for me and wanted an honest answer. I steeled myself for something weighty, perhaps about whether I believed in heaven and hell. Then she looked at me and asked: “Tell me, Judith, do you really like garlic?” I couldn’t lie. Yes, I admitted, I adored garlic. She looked so crestfallen at that moment that I was sure she felt a sense of finality about the wayward path her younger daughter had taken. To her, garlic represented everything alien and vulgar. It smelled bad, and people who handled it or ate it smelled bad. Moreover, it covered up the natural flavor of honest food—and that was suspect. Those French chefs, for instance, why did they have to put a sauce on everything, anyway? No doubt to disguise the taste because what was underneath wasn’t very fresh to begin with. In my mother’s house we were always being told to get rid of the smells, to make sure that the kitchen door was shut, that the windows were open. Not only was garlic banned, onions were permitted only when a lamb stew was being prepared, for which two or three well-boiled small white onions per person were deemed appropriate. That’s all that were purchased; Mother didn’t want our cook, Edie Price, sneaking a little chopped onion into her meatloaf. And heaven forbid that indigestible, raw pieces might find their way into a tuna-fish sandwich. Still, I have to admit that the unadulterated English-style food I grew up on had its merits. I always loved our Sunday dinner prime rib roast with Yorkshire pudding, which my British grandfather, whenever he was present, would carve at the table, deftly cutting thin—too thin, I always thought—rosy slices. My father, Charles Bailey, who was called Monty because he grew up in Montpelier, Vermont, somehow never lost the mischievous charm of a small-town boy after he had to settle in New York City. When he married into the Hedley family, he made a point of carving clumsy, thick slices, and so was banished as the family carver. My mother took over. I can still see her standing at the head of the table honing her knife on a sharpening steel, and I would always try to sneak a nibble from the platter when she wasn’t looking. The knuckle-bone meat on a lamb roast was irresistible. I am grateful, too, that those organ meats that people spurn today often graced our table: liver and bacon, beefsteak and kidney pie, breaded sweetbreads—I lapped them up and still find all forms of innards an earthy delight. Frugality was considered a virtue. One never let things go to waste, so our cook, Edie, learned to turn leftovers into wonderful dishes: crispy croquettes with creamy lamb, ham, or chicken inside; shepherd’s pie of ground-up leftover lamb with a mashed-potato topping; minced meats in cream on toast; stuffed vegetables. We also had a meatless night once a week, either for the sake of economy or because it was good for us to forgo the pleasure of flesh, I’m not sure. For quite a few years after I graduated from the nursery table to the grown-up dinner table, I thought when we were served breaded and fried eggplant or broiled mushrooms that they were a form of meat. Of course, I didn’t dare ask, because one wasn’t supposed to talk about food at the table (it was considered crude, like talking about sex). And if we indulged in appreciative sounds like “yum-yum,” we just might be sent from the table. Nor could we make disparaging remarks if something displeased us. I remember how endlessly long the winter seemed when all that Mr. Volpe, our Italian fruit-and-vegetable vendor on the corner, could produce was overgrown root vegetables, sprouts and cabbage, and tired potatoes. Then what greens w