R.I.P. Jean Anderson, 93, ghost story buff & cookbook author
From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Tue Feb 14 15:37:29 2023
I first heard of her because of a...ghost story she retold!
It was about the mythical "Lady in Black" of Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, allegedly a Confederate spy executed in 1862. Anderson presented it as a true story. Trouble is, there is no proof ANY female spy was executed there - if one had been, it would
have made the national news, right?
"Jean Anderson, died a few weeks ago at the age of 93. She was a food and travel writer, food photographer, author of (over?) 20 cookbooks and a great friend and mentor. Jean was a walking culinary encyclopedia, my red phone on 'Cooking Live,' salty and
very funny. Before I had kids I went on several trips with her as her photographic assistant and once, when we were in the Netherlands, we passed a herd of cows and not only could she identify what breed they were, she also told me the butterfat content
of their milk. She was old school, the real deal."
Her 1,300-page “Doubleday Cookbook” was a rival to “The Joy of Cooking,” and her rigorously tested recipes taught generations of home cooks.
By Penelope Green
Published Feb. 9, 2023
Jean Anderson, the indefatigable and exacting Southern-born food writer and author of nearly 20 cookbooks, including “The Doubleday Cookbook”— a kitchen bible that rivaled “The Joy of Cooking” — and “The Food of Portugal,” which
introduced American cooks to the lore, culture and food ways of her favorite country, died last month at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C. She was 93.
A friend, the editor and author Fran McCullough, confirmed the death but did not know precisely when she had died. No cause was given.
“In a world filled with here-today-gone-tomorrow cookbooks and cookbook authors, Jean Anderson and her work have the staying power of the Rock of Gibraltar,” Elissa Altman, the food writer and memoirist, wrote on her blog in 2008. “Steeped in an
academic tradition, Jean’s books possess the kind of now-rare remarkable accuracy attainable only through a sort of culinary Socratic method.”
She was a rigorous recipe tester, a stickler for accuracy who had studied food science at Cornell, and she made it her mission to lead baffled home cooks firmly by the hand through the basics of baking, as well the esoterica of the world’s cuisines.
Her recipes were considered foolproof.
“She loved being that voice in your ear and guiding you through,” said Kim Sunée, a food editor and memoirist. “She was relentless in her testing, and lamented the chefs and celebrity food writers who weren’t. She found it both baffling and
So dedicated was Ms. Anderson that early in her career, when she was working in the test kitchen of Ladies’ Home Journal in the late 1950s and early ’60s, and the magazine published a recipe for a cranberry nut bread that omitted the baking powder,
she “personally reimbursed every cranky reader who wrote in to complain about the ‘gunky gray mess,’” she told Ms. Altman.
“You learn fast,” she added, “when you’re on a slim salary and have to shell out to disgruntled readers.”
She was, said Barbara Fairchild, the former editor in chief of Bon Appétit, to which Ms. Anderson contributed for decades, “a meticulous chronicler of the history of American cooking in the latter half of the 20th century.”
It was from Ms. Anderson’s “The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century” (1997), that Jacques Pépin learned the origins of American staples like brownies, lobster rolls and tuna casserole, he said in a phone
Sara Moulton, the chef, cookbook author and television cooking show personality, turned to Ms. Anderson whenever she was stumped by a viewer’s question. When Ms. Moulton was the host of “Cooking Live,” a call-in show that ran for six years on the
Food Network, Ms. Anderson was her “red phone,” she said — the expert she had on speed dial.
Ms. Anderson, famously camera shy, declined to be a guest on the show. Her one television appearance decades earlier, she told Ms. Moulton, involved canning cherries, and she was so nervous that she canned the pits instead.
Ms. Anderson took her own lush photographs for the hundreds of travel and food articles she contributed to magazines like Bon Appétit, Gourmet and Food & Wine.
By all accounts, she was salty and direct. “She had a heart for the home cook,” said Nancie McDermott, a food writer and author based in Chapel Hill, “with not a shred of folksy charm.”
The 1970s was a decade of battling cookbooks. “The Joy of Cooking,” a household staple, and publishing juggernaut, since it first appeared in 1930, had lost its luster until it was revised in 1975. “The Fanny Farmer Cookbook,” first published at
the end of the 19th century, was revamped in 1979, when Marion Cunningham took it on.
“The Doubleday Cookbook,” published in 1975, was the new kid on the block, a 1,300-page, four-pound doorstop even more expansive than “Joy,” with more than 4,000 recipes, from abalone stew to zucchini and lamb casserole, with stopovers in sauté
ed calves’ brains, homemade wontons and butterscotch brownies. It went on to win many awards and sell more than a million copies.
“It was a breath of fresh air in the general cookbook category,” said Matt Sartwell, managing partner at Kitchen Arts & Letters, the venerable Manhattan cookbook store. “Jean was a serious, passionate and very deliberate cook, and those qualities
made the book reliable and they also made it serious.”...