Suddenly Aunt Eunice is on the phone explaining, "Aunt Mabel won't be with us for Christmas dinner, she's taking a holiday cruise with her bridge club. So would you be a dear and bring the Cheese Custard Pie this year? The family sure loves that pie." You ponder a moment and remember that the Cheese Custard Pie wasn't half bad, a stout and hearty dish with heavy Midwestern overtones, a bit like Aunt Mabel, in fact. You've eaten the same pie every year for as long as you can remember, your parents ate the same pie, and chances are your grandparents got a little crazy and had a slice or two à la mode. Small wonder Mabel has been wowing the family with Cheese Custard Pie since 1931.
Warm fuzzy memories go suddenly bad when you realize that the success or failure of the family holiday has just been placed squarely upon your shoulders in the form of a dessert you haven't a clue how to cook. Damn that bridge club! A quick call back to Aunt Eunice reveals, "It's simple, honey, all you need is The Joy of Cooking."
In 1931, Mrs. Irma von Starkloff Rombauer was newly widowed and in need of a way to support her family. The celebrated St. Louis hostess struck on the idea of turning her personal recipes and cooking techniques into a book. She self- published The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat, and the legend was born. Aunt Mabels everywhere related to Irma's sensible, fearless approach to the culinary arts, and Chicken à la King, Risotto, and Roasted Spanish Onions found their way onto our tables. The Joy of Cooking quickly became a modern masterpiece, the stuff of legends, the foundation of family dinners everywhere.
This facsimile of the original 1931 edition offers ample proof why The Joy of Cooking, at 15 million copies and counting, remains one of the most popular cookbooks of all time. This is where it all began, and while her Shrimp Wiggle may not be in vogue anymore, a certain pie recipe just might save your family holiday. --Mark O. Howerton [via]