Thursday, June 3, 2010
The cookbook classic: Why it is still the best reference.
Title: Mastering The Art of French Cooking:
By: Julia Child
Do we only consult this book when faced with a special occasion? Or can we read it, un-rushed, for sheer pleasure? I highly recommend adding to your nightstand, the classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Written with her co-authors, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, Volume One was first published in 1961. The book was an original and creative experience due to the research and thorough testing of each recipe; it was important to make sure that the measurements and ingredients “translated” from French to American. In "Mastering," Julia Child completely immersed herself in the culture and history of French gastronomy, discovered how a particular recipe came to exist in a region; for example, her delightful account of finding the freshest mussels of Marseilles, and of the simple but complex eggplant dishes of Provence. Such elegant writing style; never are the authors frazzled by the time constraint of preparation vs. finished product on the American dinner table. The book is never stuffy, nor does one feel it was only written for serious culinary academics. It includes very good menu suggestions for both special and everyday meals, with many recipes featuring "seasonal" ingredients and advice for a wine to complement the dish. The “French Chef” continues to show us Americans that fine French cooking is truly within reach. (The memoir "My Life in France" written by Julia with her grand-nephew Alex Prud'homme, published in 2006, is a treasure of stories about the evolving drafts of this book, trusting the old-fashioned "snail mail" as the manuscript package went back and forth between the writers and the book’s editor, Judith Jones.) You can also find her famous cooking series “The Way to Cook” (produced in the mid-1980’s) available on video at the library.