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Epicurean Delight: The Life and Times of James Beard Paperback – October 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (October 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671750267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671750268
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anyone who secretly wishes that Swann's Way included Proust's recipe for madeleines will savor this biography of the late dean of American cooking. Jones, who with Judith Jones, his wife and Beard's editor, coauthored The Book of Bread , puts passion into the subject of food, describing the fare Beard (1903-1985) created or consumed during his decades-long career as consultant, teacher and cookbook author. He lards the book with recipes as well as anecdotes featuring a who's who of tastemakers. Jones prefers not to explore the issues that led failed actor Beard, at one point so grossly overweight that he got stuck in a hotel shower, to complain repeatedly that "I've never loved anyone" and, at the end of his life, to moan, "I'm not famous enough." Nor does Jones draw any conclusions from the reservations expressed here by many interviewees--including Beard's friends--about his lucrative endorsements of commercial products (e.g., Green Giant corn) or his willingness to take credit for other people's ideas. On the other hand, Jones's research is copious, his knowledge of the professional foodie circuit unimpeachable and his flair for social history utterly beguiling. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In this biography, Jones gives us the ingredients that went into the creation of one of the great 20th-century American chefs. Beard grew up in Portland, Oregon, but aspired to be an actor and moved to New York. Difficulty in maintaining steady acting employment led Beard to start a catering business for the New York theatrical elite. The rest is culinary history. Beard's early recipes, many of which are included in this text, were adaptations of those used by his British-born mother and her Chinese chef in her residential hotel business. Jones provides further context by discussing the influences of late 19th-century American Western pioneer culture, Welsh-English, European, and Oriental cooking and hospitality traditions, and post-Depression-era New York City high society on Beard's life and career. While at times interesting, this biography will most likely appeal only to die-hard fans of Beard's cookbooks.
-Ann E. Cohen, Rochester P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Scott Ewing on April 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Food in the United States, after World War II, was most influenced by three people; Julia Child, Craig Clairborne and James Beard. This book gives a up-close and in-depth look into the life of one of the food worlds most interesting people, written by someone, Evan Jones, who actually knew James Beard for almost the last two decades of Beards life. Also, Jones wife, Judith Jones, was the book editor for most of the cook books written by James Beard from the early 1970's until his death.

Excellent reading for anyone seeking more knowledge into the life of James Beard and others who shaped the food landscape of American eating.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By northkona on February 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In The New Yorker's marvelous compendium of food writing, Endless Feasts, there are two superior articles about James Beard, by Jay Jacobs. Those are much more fun to read than this book. One of the problems with Epicurean Delights is it mentions lots and lots of people that simply arent that well known unless you were in the restaurant business 30 years ago, in New York. That gets dull after awhile. After every section, there are several pages of Beard's recipes, none of which I found alluring. While Beard was undoubtedly at the forefront of the American food revolution, whatever trends he established have long been run over by later chefs, notably Alice Waters and the fresh-food enthusiasts. The end of the book gets a little gossipy in an unhelpful way, too. The author is listed as Evan Jones, but it was actually written by him and his wife, who was Julia Child's editor for Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You can tell, reading the book, that there are two writers at work, and one of them is better than the other. I'm going to get Beard's autobiography Delights and Prejudices and see what he has to say for himself.
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