Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Joy To An American Classic

Can you tell which is my original Joy of Cooking from 1975? My middle-aged one from 1997? And the newest edition from 2006?

You’ve probably heard the report by now about the huge jump in calories from Joy of Cooking’s early recipes to more current ones. A Cornell professor and his co-author claim that after examining recipes from the newest edition of Joy of Cooking, they found that they contain 63% more calories than ones from the 1936 edition.

It IS true that the later editions are bigger, but only marginally.

This makes a good headline, but I certainly wouldn’t blame ONLY the Joy of Cooking for America’s weight problem. Plus, only a small number of recipes were looked at – 18 - which included ones that are rather hefty in terms of calories anyway: Beef Stroganoff, Apple Pie, Waffles, Macaroni and Cheese for example.

Of course, the professors are making a point about American eating habits in general, but I don’t want an American classic to be defamed. What they fail to note is that, yes, the calorie counts and portions sizes are undoubtedly higher than decades ago, but I would wager that there is also a lot more attention to salads, vegetables and whole grains than in the earliest editions.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

It seems like Joy of Cooking is always getting slammed for one reason or another. I remember reading about how a new edition removed some of the charm of the book by removing recipes for things your avergae woman isn't going to cook anymore like wild game. The article argued that those recipes were fun and had a certain nostalgic quality to them (and besides some people do still cook wild game).

I think it's such a highly recognized title that it has become the go-to cookbook to slam. Want to talk about how cookbooks have changed over the years? Go the the Joy of Cooking. Want to talk about how recipes are becoming more caloric? Look at the latest edition of Joy of Cooking. Por JOC!

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
EXACTLY! I love my Joys of Cooking. I use each one for different things. The first one is for classics that I've been making for decades. The second one, strangely enough, is a really good reference for different ethnic dishes and the third...well actually I don't use the third one that much, but it makes me feel more secure just knowing that it's there.

Sheila said...

I don't have "Joy" in my kitchen! Which edition(s) should I start with? I just know I won't feel like a REAL cook until I have it. ;-) I found a few on Amazon. One from 1975, one from 1997, and the newest one. Although charming, I'm probably not going to cook much wild game... Unless the economy gets really tough! (totally kidding! - hopefully.) But it sounds like there's other valuable information in the edition.

Thanks for any advice you can give!

Sheila D.

Sue said...

Hi Sheila,
Really, you can't go wrong with any of them, but I might get the 1997 one. That's the edition they brought in all these outside experts in different areas and the recipes they contributed are really the best of their kind. So surprisingly a lot of the ethnic ones are fabulous and, of course, there are still the old standard recipes.

Emily said...

I love Joy of Cooking! I can't tell you how many times I've used it as a reference. My grandma gave her copy to my dad, and wrote in it, and then dad gave it to me! So I have an old copy and one the newest editions as well.