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Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Gave America The Joy of Cooking

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  71 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews

A New York Times Notable Book

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published November 15th 1996 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 176)
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Mary Soderstrom
Oct 07, 2014 Mary Soderstrom rated it really liked it
This week I made Devil's Food Cake Cockaigne, a lush chocolate cake that I hadn't thought about for several years. The occasion was my daughter Elin's birthday, and while we'll be celebrating with joint party in a few weeks time, it seemed that Friday was a good night for a mini-fête. Four year old Jeanne particularly liked sprinkling little candy stars on top after the cake was iced, but apart from that I was a little disappointed.

Not sure if that is due to changing ability to taste things or t
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Robin
Apr 24, 2014 Robin rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, cookbook
If you think that writing and publishing this cookbook was a "piece of cake," you may find this book a shocking insight as I did. If you use "Joy of Cooking," the long and tortured history of its various editions finally going to press in will leave you amazed that it was ever published at all. And if you think of the Midwest mother and daughter who wrote it as compatible and mild-mannered, you are in for some big surprises.

Mendelson researched this book for over 10 years, which makes it dense
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Laura
Nov 23, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
This biography of the authors of The Joy of Cooking ( and really, of the cookbook itself)Has much to recommend it, but it is SO LONG and detailed that it really requires some trudging to get through it all. There's a lot of interesting material here - my husband's family is from the St. Louis area, so the tie-in with the St. Louis German community was interesting to me, and the complicated history of the publication of the book itself has some fascinating moments -- but Ms. Mendelson has apparen ...more
Serena
Aug 12, 2015 Serena rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
The Joy of Cooking is such an iconic cookbook in America, I really wanted to learn how the mother-daughter team came to write it, so I was really looking forward to reading this book. While the main thread of the story is fascinating, the author goes off on too many tangents, that, while interesting, really distracts from the main story at hand. I think this book could have used a really good editing job to tighten the story and make it more concise and to the point. The author spends so much ti ...more
Eileen
Dec 02, 2012 Eileen rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-books
I thought I had read all of the worst written books of all time, but I was wrong. Now, I think I have. This one is now right up there, with other worst reads. 'Pedantic' is the first word that comes to mind, when speaking of Mendelson, or this book.

The first clue arrives early on, when Mendelson comments upon 'the generation' the Joy of Cooking was written for--its audience: " ...more occupied with high-flown talk of cooking as an 'art', one of the signal delusions of our time." Credited as a
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Monica Willyard
Jun 04, 2015 Monica Willyard rated it liked it
Shelves: bookshare, nls
I have been a Joy of Cooking user and fan for the past 30 years. So I was eager and excited to read this book. The author did an excellent job of writing and researching the topic of this book. Having said that, I didn't really enjoy reading it. I found myself disliking the main characters. That made finishing the book feel tedious and uncomfortable. I respect the accomplishment of writing and publishing the Joy of Cooking. I don't like or respect the people themselves though. Their character is ...more
Susanne
Apr 21, 2015 Susanne rated it it was amazing
The author has written an amazing book. Congratulations to her. Anyone interested in the history of food, etc, should read this. Included is an excellent history of food and food practices in north american in the last 100 years. Illuminating.
Elspeth
Mar 15, 2016 Elspeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Combines three of my interests ... cooking, books, and copyright! Part biography, part publishing history of Joy, and part history of American cookbooks ... not always easy reading, but worth the struggle.
Antonio
Oct 08, 2011 Antonio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I really wanted to like this book, since The Joy of Cooking first taught me to cook more than the basics. The book clearly shows the immense effort Anne Mendelson put into researching the times and culture that produced Irma Rombauer. Unfortunately, the book spends too much time on the world around Mrs. Rombauer and not enough on the lady herself and the great book that is her legacy. I only read the first third of this book before giving up, but it's a 500 page book. I would have much preferred ...more
Patricia
Jul 02, 2008 Patricia rated it really liked it
Part biography and part critical exegesis of the development of American cooking, this excellently researched and well-footnoted book deserves a place on the shelf alongside The Joy of Cooking. Try teasing apart the engaging personalities of the authors of Joy from the elegant and witty prose of Ms. Mendelson; I don't think it can be done. Fully as enjoyable as it is erudite, and that's saying a lot.
Deena
Jan 25, 2010 Deena rated it it was ok
Read this for my culinary history reading group in Dec. 2009. At least, I tried to read it. I got through the first 150 pages or so by the time the group met, but didn't finish it. The author clearly had a wealth of information, and perhaps the discussion of writing "The Joy of Cooking" was good, but I didn't get that far. Basically, too much of what might have been a good thing.
Tevilla
Aug 29, 2012 Tevilla rated it did not like it
This book could have been so much better. Too much detail about the battle between Bobbs-Merril and the authors of the Joy of Cooking.

Such an amazing time--and so many changes took place in how food and cooking was viewed.

I cannot recommend this book except to the overly detailed oriented reader.
Kristen
Jul 03, 2008 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at the evolution of a best-selling cookbook, written by a non-cook. Also covers culinary history and trends of the 20th century. A bit too long, and reading the ancestral family history of the main character dragged, but a pretty well-told story.
Martha Cody
I couldn't finish it. So much minutia. A classic case of an author who feels she has to include every tiny fact that she's uncovered during her research. Ironic in a book about the publishing world - this book was crying out for a good editor.
Chris
Sep 14, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: foodie
I love the Joy of Cooking, so what's not to love here? The most interesting thing, to me, was that a grad school classmate and fellow librarian's grandfather was their evil editor. Not even six degrees of separation between me and Irma Rombauer!
Houstonfour
Jul 30, 2009 Houstonfour rated it did not like it
This book could be so interesting, if it was shorter. Author did a great job of researching this story, but it all gets bogged down in minutia and character analysis. All the details make it boring and difficult to pay attention to.
Maria Mangano
Mar 09, 2013 Maria Mangano rated it it was amazing
If you're a wicked crazy foodie like me and know all about the various editions of Joy (the classic -- 1975; the flop: The "new" Joy, which was about as big a hit as new Coke), you will enjoy this biography for sure.
Ginny
Apr 25, 2016 Ginny added it
Couldn't finish this one; too dry and dense. May try again. Only once put a book down and didn't finish; this makes twice.
Karen
Sep 21, 2010 Karen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Being from the St. Louis area and descended from it's early German immigrants PLUS being a huge fan of The Joy of Cooking makes this book a page turner for me. Enjoying it so far Lots!!
Margaret
Apr 22, 2008 Margaret rated it it was ok
I started this book, but was not really able to get into it. After reading a few chapters, I gave it up. It's pretty dry and I'm one who loves biographies.
Gretchen
Jun 18, 2016 Gretchen added it
Shelves: grad-school
Holy shit this book took me forever to read. Highly recommended if you want a microhistory of one particular textbook.
Kate
Sep 05, 2011 Kate is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Loving Mendelson's style and appreciating further insight into my cult-fave, the Joy of Cooking.
Betsy
May 09, 2013 Betsy rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, x2013
Combined history of the cookbook, the authors and 20th century domestic life. Too wordy.
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peggy
Jul 11, 2011 Peggy rated it really liked it
A real American story...
Kate
Feb 15, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who cook from JoC often enough to want a back-story
Shelves:
I feel less like I'm reading a novel and more like I'm reading a history book. Not really a bad thing, just not what I expected.
Theresa B.
Theresa B. marked it as to-read
May 13, 2016
Sheri
Sheri marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2016
Stephanie
Stephanie marked it as to-read
Apr 08, 2016
Annie
Annie marked it as to-read
Apr 02, 2016
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