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.
Then I picked up The Tenth Muse and I instantly thought of my grandmother. I devoured the pages like I would her banana bread or blueberry pancakes and as I read on I came to realize exactly what all of this cooking stuff was all about. The book did not convert me. I will never want to go in a kitchen and whip up a simple or elaborate meal, but I have learned a new appreciation for the people who do have that desire to cook somewhere in their blood. Thankfully Judith Jones doesn’t insist that reading her book will make everyone run out and pick up a pot or a pan. She accepts that there are people out there who just don’t have a cooking gene and is okay with that, though she does say she hopes to see more young people cooking.
At first this statement upset me because I know from experience that you can’t force a love of cooking on anyone. I may have the fondest memories of my grandmother in her kitchen, but I am not going to run to my kitchen in order to relive them. After a while, though, I realized that the exposure to the kitchen is more about remembering the past, sharing time together, and enjoying yourselves than it is about making someone figure out how to boil potatoes or bake the perfect cake. I read stories of Julia Childe and all of the other famous folks out there who wrote cook books or encouraged people to take the time to feed their families in a wholesome way and I made a connection with my grandmother’s generation that I never thought was possible.
I can’t go to her now and tell her that all of this has happened for me, but I can remember what it was like to experience this realization and I can pass it on to other readers. I can recommend this book to anyone who has a willingness to relive a memory of family in the kitchen, I can tell the cooks out there that there are recipes in the back of the book, and I can let everyone know that the stories of publishing a wide variety of cookbooks will intrigue and delight readers of every variety. I never thought a book about cooking would touch me the way this one has. I never thought I would claim said book was a must read. This one falls into both of those. Enjoy.