One afternoon, I found myself in the presence and home of my hero, Judith Jones. Tucked away in northeastern Vermont , we ate thick wedges of quiche draped with sour cream (it was, I learned after one curious bite, a mingling of fat on fat that accentuated the texture of cream and custard alike). We drank white wine from the supermarket that Judith kept stored, re-corked from a previous day’s glass, in the condiments shelf of the refrigerator. Her dog, Mabon, scratched a small hole in the seam of my t-shirt while saying hello, a shirt I still have and a hole I haven’t mended. Ms. Jones told me to call her Judith.
It was August 2016—almost exactly a year before Judith, venerable writer and editor behind some of the most influential American chefs and writers, passed away at age ninety-three. Benchmarks in her long career include, famously, pulling the Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl out of the slush pile; publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child after its multiple rejections; and exploding the canon of American home cooking with the works of Edna Lewis, Madhur Jaffrey, Irene Kuo, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan Lidia Bastianich, Joan Nathan and James Beard, among many others. Judith received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, the year before publishing The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food (sixty pages of which I read on the floor of a public library in Vermont).