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Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Gave America The Joy of Cooking Paperback – May 6, 2003
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In 1930 Irma Rombauer's husband killed himself, and to help make ends meet she decided to write a cookbook. The Joy Of Cooking was initially self-published, but went on to sell 14 million copies over 60 years, and became the most influential American cookbook of all time. The crucial factor in this unexpected success was Rombauer's lively voice as an unpretentious amateur. America's home cooks were desperate for down-to-earth instruction and they could relate to Rombauer's strong personality. Anne Mendelson chronicles Rombauer's life and work and that of her daughter, later co-author and successor, Marion Rombauer Becker. She offers too a view of the evolution of American cooking from the mid-19th century onward, and of the impact of Rombauer's joyful contribution. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
When St. Louis housewife Irma von Starkloff Rombauer (1877-1962) self-published The Joy of Cooking in 1931, she was, at age 54, a total amateur in the kitchen. Indianapolis publisher Bobbs-Merrill helped make her cookbook a huge bestseller in its subsequent editions. Whereas Rombauer brought a homespun, spontaneous style to her recipes, her daughter, Maron Rombauer Becker (1903-1976), who collaborated on Joy starting with the 1948 revision, transformed it into an all-purpose learning tool and also imbued it with health-food consciousness. By following Joy's successive incarnations as well as rival manuals, Mendelson, a culinary historian and freelance writer, serves up a delightful social history of Americans' changing cooking and eating habits. She sets Rombauer's German-American roots in the context of a thriving Midwestern immigrant community and also unravels both her and her daughter's tangled, acrimonious relationship with Bobbs-Merrill. Mendelson's narrative is enlivened by numerous personal stories: the suicide in 1930 of Rombauer's manic-depressive husband, Edgar, a civil rights lawyer; Becker's championing of modernist art and her crusading for affordable housing in Cincinnati; her often tense relationship with her mother, who criticized her plain looks; and her steadfast, loving care for her mother, who suffered repeated strokes, even as she herself fought the cancer to which she eventually succumbed. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
My main criticism is the length. I love a good long book, but I suspect that all the same facts and analysis could have been presented with about 30-40% less text.
I really thought the story behind the book was going to be interesting but the way that it is written is more like a history book.
Even though I got mine for only $4, don't waste your money or time on it.
Take one family--the St. Louis Rombauers--from good German stock. Add a 1931 vanity printing of Mrs. Rombauer's mostly unexceptional recipes: molded fruit salads, Kitchen Bouquet-colored gravies, things involving canned soup. Watch this collection rise into a successful commercial volume, leavened by its idiosyncratic voice (comparing a "vegetable plate, unadorned" to Gandhi's bald head, the amateur chef recommended a sprig of parsley). Throw in a contentious author-publisher relationship, plus daughter Marion Rombauer Becker's reluctant inheritance of her mother's legacy, and a delicious story forms.
Mendelson, who writes for Gourmet, discusses this most definitively American kitchen manual with measured but contagious relish. Like The Joy of Cooking, her closely researched work will be many things to many people. It's publishing history, intimate biography, and a record of changing national tastes--a practically foolproof repast.