Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Report: My Life in Food by Judith Jones

Judith Jones is the woman who first gave us Julia Child. She was Julia's editor and champion in the publishing world for the revolutionary cooking classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I've just finished reading Jones' autobiography My Life in Food.

It was interesting, but I found myself disappointed with the writing. I found that all the sections I underlined were actually quotes from the many food writers she has worked with during her illustrious career. I guess she is an editor deep down in her bones.

This behind the scenes shot of her and Julia hard at work warmed my heart. I wonder if they knew about the massive success that was coming for them? And get a load of that manuscript! Crikey!

There was one passage that was an exception, which I think articulates quite beautifully what this complicated relationship with cooking really entails. Why it goes down so deep- far beyond simple sustenance and into nourishment for body, mind and soul. And of course, it begins with a quotation!

“'Cooking is one of those arts which most requires to be done by people of a religious nature.' –Alfred North Whitehead

He suspected I would love that thought, fancying myself to be of a religious nature. He knew that I always felt that the preparation of food is one of the most joyous and inwardly satisfying of all activities we human beings are peculiarly privileged to indulge in daily.

Other creatures receive food simply as fodder. But we take the raw materials of the earth and work with them-touch them, manipulate them, taste them, glory in their heady smells and colors, and then, through a bit of alchemy, transform them into delicious creations. Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, respect. It is a way of worship, a way of giving thanks.

Later, when I pursued the root of the word “religious” I found that it is thought to spring from religare, meaning “to bind, to tie fast, to reconnect."

Isn’t that what we do when we cook? We connect again to the earth, to the source of our food and we bind to one another in the sharing of it, the breaking of bread together, the celebrating of life.”

What would you add to Judith's words? Why is it that cooking for people we love has this transformative power? What food memories still linger with you?

1 comment:

Jimmy said...
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