04 November 2006

The Joy of Squirrels

The New York Times reviewed the new edition of The Joy of Cooking the other day. In the course of the review, they touched on the various changes made to Joy over time - what styles and recipes and techniques have come in and out of favor. I have two earlier editions - 1953 and 1975. The 1953 edition was my grandmother's and is complete with her pencil markings in the margin, and amusingly, some of my pencil markings from days when I cooked with her.

This paragraph:

The game sections offer another example of nostalgia run amok. The 1997 book removed references to porcupine, raccoon and squirrel, omissions that have been held up as proof that “Joy” had lost its soul. The new version includes no recipes for those creatures, although it does suggest they can be cooked like chicken. (To be fair, the rabbit-skinning diagram is back, and the venison section is much improved.)

sent me to my earlier editions to check on the squirrel techniques.

In 1953, the squirrel section begins "there are proverbially many ways to skin a squirrel."

In 1975, the instructions begin "To skin, don gloves to avoid possible tularemia infection."

It seems to me that Joy was losing its soul, and its joy, by 1975.

Another difference between these two editions...note the shoes in the drawings. In 1953, there are delicate old-style ladies boots doing the holding down of the squirrel. In 1975, we're wearing steel-toed work boots.


Jocelyn said...


Back when cookbooks kept it real.