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OP: The New York Times Cook Book

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by Craig Claiborne

This book, along with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published the same year, helped launch a food revolution that transformed practically everything about the way Americans cooked and ate.

A compilation of recipes and other food writing from The New York Times where Claiborne was Food Editor and later the major restaurant critic, the book marks a notable shift in the presentation of home cooking. No longer a routine obligation and chore, it became an activity carried out with consciousness, care, curiosity, and pleasure. Unfamiliar ingredients and previously untried flavors and textures were not dismissed as “foreign” and inaccessible but instead were welcomed as components of a new inventiveness and curiosity. 

Known popularly as The New York Times “blue,” for its dark navy dust jacket, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was the wedding gift choice for many years. Most of our customers who come in asking for The New York Times Cook Book today mean this one, though it has been out of print for decades, and the newspaper has had its name on dozens of books since it was published.

Like other significant and influential “bibles” of long-standing culinary value, the Times cookbook was something to be used and not simply admired by all that owned it. Thus it is exceedingly rare to find pristine copies. Most are stained, torn, dogeared, and without dust jackets—what we might choose to call well-loved. 

We are fortunate to be offering a signed 1961 first printing copy inscribed to British cookbook author Robin McDouall. The dust jacket, while intact, shows rubbing, chipping, and small closed tears along the corners and edges, and the ink of the title is somewhat faded, most notably the gold ink of “Cook Book.” The interior is clean and unmarked—a strong Very Good plus—and the case, not particularly shelfworn, is moderately softening at the head and foot of the spine. An important piece of history and a prize for any collector of contemporary American material.

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