Note: This is a fairly rich, thick soup, so you may want to dilute it with more buttermilk or milk to taste. I like to add a whole serrano pepper to the soup instead of ground red pepper for a...
Joy of Cooking: a Book that Shaped America
Last month, the Library of Congress selected eighty-eight works of fiction and non-fiction from our nation's varied literary past--more specifically, books that have deeply affected the lives of American readers--to include in an exhibition entitled "Books That Shaped America." We are very proud and honored to report that The Joy of Cooking is part of this exhibition, which is designed to spark a national conversation about American literary works and the relationship we have with them. From the Library of Congress press release:
"This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books--although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world."
Well, that's kind of a moist blanket. Though we are slightly biased, I think it's fair to say that "best" is at least a halfway-decent characterization of JOY (as well as Moby-Dick, which nearly tops my own, unofficial list). Seriously though, I can imagine the many belabored conference calls and discussions it took to get a consensus on the most influential books in American literature, and I am sure that omitting the implied value judgements a word like "best" conjures probably shortened the selection process by a few years. The fact we made it through the Library of Congress' deliberations and on to this list (sandwiched between The Sound and the Fury and Gone With the Wind!) is a testament not only to the lasting popularity of the book, but also its perennial, sauce-spattered place in American kitchens, ever-ready to help generation after generation of perplexed, curious, harried, or forgetful cooks.
We would like to thank the good folks over at the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library for their similarly grand gesture of recognition, and, most importantly, all of our devoted fans and readers who continue to make working on this book truly a joy.