Epicurean Delight: The Life and Times of James Beard

Evan Jones, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24.95 (366p) ISBN 978-0-394-57415-8
Anyone who secretly wishes that Swann's Way included Proust's recipe for madeleines will savor this biography of the late dean of American cooking. Jones, who with Judith Jones, his wife and Beard's editor, coauthored The Book of Bread , puts passion into the subject of food, describing the fare Beard (1903-1985) created or consumed during his decades-long career as consultant, teacher and cookbook author. He lards the book with recipes as well as anecdotes featuring a who's who of tastemakers. Jones prefers not to explore the issues that led failed actor Beard, at one point so grossly overweight that he got stuck in a hotel shower, to complain repeatedly that ``I've never loved anyone'' and, at the end of his life, to moan, ``I'm not famous enough.'' Nor does Jones draw any conclusions from the reservations expressed here by many interviewees--including Beard's friends--about his lucrative endorsements of commercial products (e.g., Green Giant corn) or his willingness to take credit for other people's ideas. On the other hand, Jones's research is copious, his knowledge of the professional foodie circuit unimpeachable and his flair for social history utterly beguiling. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-671-75026-8
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