17 August 2009

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food


Judith Jones is probably the most famous foodie who didn’t spend her life in a kitchen cooking. Well, actually, she spent a lot of time in a kitchen cooking, but her claim to fame in not cooking, but publishing people who did cook. Judith Jones is the editor who brought Madhur Jaffery, Marcella Hazen, Ed Giobbi, and Edna Lewis to the reading public, but there were more.

She brought Elizabeth David to America, a feat that proved to be quite difficult. It seems, Jones wanted the stuffing set to fill zucchini, to fill just the zucchini and not make triple the amount needed. She wanted them to be zucchini and not courgettes, after all, it was America. David didn't see the problem and she knew courgettes were much more pleasant sounding than zucchini. She wrote to Jones:
“Inconsistencies are inevitable in a cookery book and preferable, I think myself, to the absurdities brought about by overzealousness in the matter of liberal renderings.
I don’t think one does any harm in crediting one’s readers with a little imagination and knowledge of their own.”
Is it any wonder I love Elizabeth David! Knopf told Jones to reject the book if David refused her changes, but Jones realized what a wonder it was and she published it with all of Elizabeth David’s “inconsistencies.”

There was someone else she edited … let me think… oh, yes, Julia Child. If you went to the movies this month you know this story by heart.

James Beard, Judith Jones, and Julia Child

Jones was a bit of a cookbook writer on her own (and with her husband, Evan). So when Jones set out to write a biography, it was destined to be a winner. The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food is just that. Part biography, part love story, part cookbook and all totally fascinating.

As for the cookbook part, Judith Jones first tasted this sauce in a bistro on the Left Bank. It was spread on sliced cold meat. She loved it and searched around for a recipe. She never found one she truly liked, so she devised her own.
Sauce Gribiche for Cold Lamb or Other Meats

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
2 cornichons, chopped in small pieces
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped fine
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Mix all the ingredients together. If you’re not using the sauce right away, hold back on the parsley, and mix that in at the last. This is a sauce you have to taste so you can adjust the seasoning to get the balance right. Adjust accordingly to what your palate tells you.
See the movie if you must (you must) and while you are out, pick up a copy of The Tenth Muse.

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