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all about joy

1931 edition

By Irma Rombauer
Illustrated by Marion Rombauer
Published by Irma Rombauer (Printed by A.C. Clayton, St. Louis, MO)
Facsimile edition published by Scribner, 1998

Irma wrote a prologue to this first, self-published edition, which we include here.:

Whenever I leave home and begin to move about, I am appalled to find how many people with a desire to write feel impelled to share their emotions with the general public.

Time and again I have been told with modesty and pride, or with both, that I was entertaining a literary angel unawares, until one day, recognizing the glint of authorship in a man's eye and anticipating his imminent confidence, I forestalled him by saying rapturously, "Oh, do you know, I am a reader!"

And now, after all, I am a writer--of a kind.

For thirty odd years I have enjoyed cooking as an avocation, and as I moved about from place to place I found myself encumbered with an ever increasing supply of cook books--domestic, foreign, published and unpublished.

The result of this encumbrance was an anothology of favorite recipes, which disposed for all time of my ambulant library. These recipes have been developed, altered and created outright, so that the collection as it now stands may make a claim for originality--enough, it is hoped, to justify its publication, and to hold the interest of those who encouraged me to put it into book form.

In this practical outgrowth of a pleasant experience, I have attempted to make palatable dishes with simple means and to lift everyday cooking out of the commonplace.

In spite of the fact that the book is compiled with one eye on the family purse and the other on the bathroom scale, there are, of course, occasional lapses into indulgence.

Good cooks at home and abroad have contributed to this collection, and many a recipe is coupled in my mind with a grateful thought of the friend who gave it.

Marion Rombauer, Irma's daughter, designed and illustrated the book in addition to testing recipes. Her recollection of printing the first edition, the "Little Joy" as they called it in later years, are as follows:

How naïve and straightforward was our approach to publishing! We simply called in a printer. I remember the Saturday morning she arrived, laden with washable cover fabrics, type and paper samples. In a few hours all decisions were made, and shortly afterwards we signed a contract for 3,000 copies complete with mailing cartons and individualized stickers. Then came the new experience of galleys, proofreading and preparing an index." Modern woman is faced with tasks almost as diversified as St. Martha's, and cooking is not the least of the problems she must meet with intelligence and understanding.

Some testimonials at the time of publication:

Mrs. Rombauer successfully imparts the feeling that cooking never is nor should be a dull task.  A thoroughly practical cookbook, well indexed and including old and honored recipes as well as the newest fads and fancies. ---Marguerite Martyn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Inexperienced cooks find it a splendid teacher. ---Mrs. W. H. Dempsey, Alton, Illinois

I have yet to find any as practical from every standpoint as The Joy of Cooking.  It is reliable, contains unusual and original dishes and menus, and best of all, its outstanding virtue is economy. ---Rita Ross, Household Club Program, KSD Broadcasting Station

I take the book to bed with me because it is such fun to plan for the next day and be entertained at the same time. ---Jean Wagoner, Indianapolis, Indiana

Women in business with little time to give to the all-important kitchen will find this complete cookbook most satisfactory. ---Laura Stith Corbitt, St. Louis, Missouri

The fact that it was written with one eye on the pocket-book and one on the bathroom scales will appeal to all young and old housekeepers. ---Louis K. Adam, Chicago, Illinois


The Joy of Cooking: A Facsimile of the First Edition
With a Foreword by Edgar R. Rombauer
Published by Scribner, 1998

Luckily for JOY fans and collectors, a facsimile of the 1931 edition was printed in 1998. This is a perfect copy of the first edition and reveals why the Joy of Cooking has become a legacy of learning and pleasure for generations of users.
The Foreword by Irma's son, Edgar Rombauer, is full of information about the writing of the "little book" (as it was often referred to by the family), and Irma's quest to find a publisher.