Big Happy Birthday to Judith Jone, March 10th

Category: Hiroko's Blog

Judith notesIt was ten years ago something, which I could never have dreamed, happened. I was given the most precious gift or opportunity from the God. At that time I was looking for the publisher for my second book, sushi book. One day my agent, Janise, called me: “Alfred Knopf is interested in your manuscript and we, together, will go to see the editor, Judith Jones, next week”. I pinched my cheek. “Am I working with Judith Jones?”  How many times I heard from Buzz about the legendary editor, Judith Jones, after moving to America. Judith Jones is the discoverer of Julia Child’s and editor of many of her books; Judith Jones made The Diary of Anne Frank come into being; Judith Jones edited John Updike’s manuscripts…..many more.

This is my congratulation note to Judith on her 90th birthday on this Monday, March 10. Happy Birthday, Judith!!! Wish you the very happy, healthy wonderful year!

I commuted to Judith’s office many times. She edited my manuscript – close to 800 pages – by 15th century methods – by pencil. She used her favorite green pencil. When the manuscript was edited first time by her, I was called to her office. The edited manuscript looked very green on all pages. Judith had lots of questions. We went through almost all of the pages so that I could answer to her many questions. After this intense, lengthy but fun session I was sent home with the green-marked manuscript to work on it according to her editing. How many times did we go through this process? Maybe it was 9-10 times. Each time the manuscript got less green in color. Judith was very patient and I loved to spend time with her at her office. I hated to think the day would come when there is no more green color on my manuscript. It meant the end of the visits to her at her office.

Judith HirokoDuring editing the manuscript in order to refine the work Judith came to my studio kitchen several times to learn how to make sushi rice, how to fillet the fish and how to make varieties of sushi. She is very hands on. She loves to learn new techniques and food preparations. While working together in the kitchen she told me stories about her life in France and cookbook authors with whom she worked, including Julia Childs. She reminded me of my mother who was always with full of stories of her growing up. One day she came to my kitchen and we made sushi rolls – inside-out rolls and regular rolls. After the session she was hurrying back to her office with the sushi. Judith told me with her lovely smiling that she was going to share them with John Updike, who was coming to see her at her office. Judith said John Updike enjoyed what we created.

The Sushi Experience was published in 2006, and the following year the book became one of the Finalist at James Beard House Book Award. Thank you, Judith. I enjoyed so much working with you.

This year Judith is celebrating her 90th birthday, and my mother her 88th. I am blessed to have these two finest and respectful women in my life. Once more, Happy Birthday, my dearest Judith!

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