Before there was Julia…

12thJan. × ’10

I had to post from out of nowhere when I read this Mental Floss post about Irma Rombauer andThe Joy of Cooking.  I tend to think of this book as a useful but outdated spring from which American culinary interest flowed.  I didn’t know that Rombauer was a first-generation American, nor that she was admittedly inexperienced in culinary arts, nor really anything about the circumstances under which it was published.  Let it suffice to say that I never particularly cared to find out.

Well, it turns out that Irma Rombauer was another remarkable and unique woman, bringing her abilities and perspective to the hungry American masses in the right way and at the right time.  A persistent believer in her product, well acquainted with her target market, with a witty style and enough peripheral info on cocktails and entertaining to keep the book of cuisine afloat.

And to think that Americans are too stupid to cook.  Imagine that.  Like we did in the Great Depression, and like people always do when things are lean, people are reaching for cookbooks to squeeze something better from their time and their kitchens.  It goes without saying, since Ruhlman said it for me, that nothing is “too hard” for us to do, if we think smart about it.  I’m always a little gobsmacked when I think about how little many people are engaged with the food they consume.  If saving a few pennies gets people critically involved in their diet again, that can only be a good thing.

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