Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mastering An Art

I loved the concept of Julie and Julia. Who hasn't cooked their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one recipe at a time?...What? you haven't? Oh...I have. (Except for the recipes that contain liver, which Mr Hunting Creek refuses to admit is a food. I had to adapt those) It was back in the Dark Ages, when the internets were but a teesny gleam in Al Gore's eyes. I was home that summer of 1988, because I had no job (the company I worked for had gone out of business) and there were few new jobs to have (during the Reagan Recession). I had a 3 1/2year old to watch. I did not watch daytime TV except for Sesame Street, Mr Roger's Neighborhood and, yes, Julia Child.
There is nothing like copious amounts of butter, fresh cream and galettes of potatoes to help mend a broken heart. My mother had passed away that spring, after a long illness, and we were all still recovering from that. Concentrating on making dishes like Poulet Roti a la Normande, with perfect stuffing, a first course, sauce, vegetables and dessert every day is an excellent way to move on with life. I did not cook my way through the book the way Julie Powell did; it would never have occurred to me to just plow through front to back with such single-mindedness of purpose. (all soups one week, all chicken the next, step by step.) Also, Mr. Hunting Creek would have objected to Tarte Tatin for dinner and nothing else, no matter how delicious it was. (He is pretty much stuck in that traditional balanced meal must-have-meat-and-vegetables mindset. This is why I don't have a book deal, I tell him.)I made actual meals, with courses. It was fun, and what with doing that and keeping an eye on a young child, there was no time for brooding. Every day was scheduled: breakfast, clean up, job search during nap time, lunch, clean up, and then cooking all afternoon. It was fun. It was educational. (How many people do you know who have made real boudin blanc?)
This book is serious. It does not talk down to beginning cooks. The authors assume that you take the subject of mastering French cuisine as seriously as they do. If you cook through it and follow the excellent instructions, you will have something wonderful to eat. And maybe feel better about getting on with your life. (That's Julia's genius. You thought that this was just a cookbook? Au contraire!)
Bon appetit!


Kathi said...

What wonderful memories you have of what could have been a very bad time in your life. The meals sound excellent. My husband also believes in a meat and two vegetable meal - two vegetables of contrasting colors! On nights when he is not home, the boys and I have breakfast for supper. We love it! Not that any of us mind a meat and potatoes type supper, we just happen to love breakfast food and it seems to taste better at night when you aren't supposed to eat it!

AuntieAllyn said...

I bought both of the "French Cooking" books a couple of years ago and haven't cooked anything out of them yet. As much as I love to cook, I felt I needed these books for references purposes at the very least! When I retire in a few years, I look forward to doing more than just reading the books, as I'll have the time to actually make her recipes!

Nancy (nanflan) said...

I enjoyed the new Julia Child movie so much! Who'd of thought it would be so fun?

Thanks for sharing your memories. I loved Julia Child's TV shows. Her knowlege and enthusiasm were real.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I'm so impressed with your undertaking! Too bad the internet wasn't invented yet...

Karen said...

I haven't mastered Mastering the Art of French Cooking yet, but I've cooked my fair share from the books and even when it feels beyond me - sometimes you just want less complications - I love that the books don't talk down. There's too much easy out there, this is how to do it RIGHT.

Loved the movie, especially the Julia Child parts (Meryl Streep was wonderfull, wasn't she?).

BTW, thanks for the comment on my blouse post - it's BWOF 3/06 #104, and if you're interested, I finished it so you can see what it looks like on a "real" person, instead of a BWOF model. :)