"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize." - Julia Child

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When it's too hot to eat food, read about food

It's too hot to cook, but it's never too hot to read (or sit around in an air-conditioned place watching food movies [RATATOUILLE was on recently!] or Food Network). Lately I've been eating whatever I pull out of the fridge without any cooking/boiling/toasting/nuking, but I did recently finish Julia Child's My Life in France, her fun memoir about her years living in Paris and beyond with Paul--the years when she learned to cook and began putting together Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My knowledge of MTAFC was limited to what I understood of the book through Julie and Julia--Julie Powell's memoir of spending a year cooking every recipe therein--and my knowledge of Julia Child was mostly limited to having watched her various appearances on PBS. So I had no idea just what a labor of love it was to produce Mastering, how long it took to perfect and put together, and how close it came to never actually being published.

Having finished Julia's delightful memoir, I purchased a copy of Mastering, and it is truly a delight to behold. It is so thorough, explaining every ingredient, tool, and step in detail (sometimes with drawings) and never giving itself over to snobbery or the assumption that someone can't do something. It is like friendly, encouraging advice, offering tips on how to fix botched mayonnaise or sauce and the best way to dice an onion. As I read the section on roasting a chicken (and having watched the episode of The French Chef where Julia trusses and roasts a chicken on a spit), I remembered that there is a side compartment to our oven that had some mysterious tools inside. I went and poked around and was delighted to find that we have a rotisserie in our oven. I think this winter Jeremy and I may have to roast a whole chicken, Julia-style. How could we not! (And this will give us plenty of time to figure out how to use the darned thing.) Hopefully by then I'll have a digital camera so I can document the whole thing.

But anyway... food books. Cook books. Mastering the Art. It's really fun to read the book and think about what recipes I want to try. These are for serious, hefty food, nothing I feel like eating right now in 95 degree heat, but tempting to think about for cooler months ahead, when you want a comforting, robust meal to tide you through the chill. I also couldn't help myself and got Jose Andres's Made in Spain, the companion cookbook to his fantastic TV series. Oh, I miss Spain! It has been too long since I was last there. So I'm excited to try some of the food from that one too. (I think Jeremy is particularly excited about that one, as he is a huge Jose fan.)

It's fun to read about food and the people who cook it. I definitely recommend My Life in France as a light yet satisfying read about a woman who discovered her passion, followed it, and shared it with the world--and who never apologized once along the way. Her greatest achievement, I think.

How freaking cute are they?

Also, here's a fabulous article on Julia Child from Vanity Fair.

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