introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 16, 2004

Jane Mendle's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

mendle.jpgJane Mendle is the author of Kissing in Technicolor, a novel which draws upon her experience in both the film and publishing industries after graduating from college six years ago. Right now, she's pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia. Her thesis, which you can download from her website, explores the possible reasons why, as the opening paragraph puts it, "girls who grow up in households with an unrelated adult male reach menarche earlier than peers." Her holiday gift recommendation, like her novel, is a bit more lighthearted!

By kindergarten, I had outgrown my Easy Bake Oven (recommended for ages 8-10) and was ravaging our kitchen daily. I made cakes dyed blue with food coloring, endless racks of cookies, and something--best forgotten--that my father referred to as "Chocolate Catastrophe." I don't remember the first time I opened Joy of Cooking, but I do remember flipping through its soiled pages, gritty with flour and vanilla extract, looking for an afternoon's activity. First published in 1931, Joy is encyclopedic in its breadth, beloved by everyone from Julia Child to the most tentative novice, filled with definitions, pictures, basic and essential recipes. Although there's now a "new" Joy, I strongly recommend the original, primarily for the anachronistic humor. (Instructions for a New England clambake begin, "Dig a pit in the sand.") Either way, it is impossible to own this book and not use it excessively. Were we to analyze my own battered copy, I suspect each stained page would contain a shocking percentage of the recommended daily allowance of some essential vitamin or mineral.
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