November 21, 2007

A Talented Editor

I heard a terrific interview on Monday with Judith Jones, who was Julia Child's editor at Knopf and who had a tremendous impact on the modern cookbook. The interviewer, Sheilah Kast, asked Jones what new kind of cookbook remained to be done. Southern Thai? What was the undiscovered style of the next age?

Jones replied that the need wasn't for new horizons, but for technique and tools — for knowing what to do. Knowing to dry the beef for Boeuf Bourguignonne, or really any braise, before you brown it, because it won't brown if it's damp.

And I said to myself, "that's exactly right: that's the book we need." Because we don't just know these things. We need a book that tells us to buy one really good pan, not a set. A book that tells us how to clean it easily. And so I'm driving down Pleasant Street in Medford and saying, "You know, I could write that!" It'd be a lot of research, but I could.

And that's the mark of a tremendous editor. She got me thinking about sending her a manuscript. Awesome.