Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cooking with Julia...An Adventure

For my birthday, I gifted myself an e-book version of Julia's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I regretted it almost immediately. The choice to get the e-book as opposed to the real book, that is...not purchasing Julia's classic encyclopedia of all things food that are delicious and french and, at times, revolting (see "aspics"). My regret was simply because there are two, no four, wonderful things real books offer that e-books do not:

1. You can't put it on a shelf, glance at it as you pass by and smile, thinking "Yeah, I own that."
2. E-books don't have that amazing "book" smell.
3. Splatters on e-books don't stick and stain and create lasting memories.
4. And, finally, though you can, technically, hug an e-book via the e-reader, it's just not the same as hugging a real book. (I can't be the only person that hugs books that mean a great deal to me. Can I?)

Despite my initial regret, I soon found myself flipping through page after page of recipes for sauces, poultry, and custards with romantic-sounding french names. Honestly, doesn't Supremes de Volaille a Brun sound infinitesimally better than Chicken Breasts sautéed in butter? Doesn't preparing a dish with a French name make you feel fancy? Like you should be wearing a dress, holding a glass of wine in one hand as you "volaille" your "supremes"? Or, at the very least, put on a strand of pearls? 

As for me, when I decided to dip my toe into the somewhat intimidating pool that is "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", I selected Supremes de Volaille a Brun and Choux de Bruxelles Volaille a Brun (Brussels Sprouts sauteed in butter), sans wine or pearls, but with Julia's voice in the background describing how to prepare a perfect Charlotte Malakoff.  

I'll post more about my first night of Cooking with Julia, complete with pictures and how the recipes actually turned out, in a later post. But, before we launch into that adventure, there are a few things I'd like to say first, about Julia, about my love for her, an about why I'm doing this...

1. I fully realize that blogging about Julia Child is old hat. But, blogging, really, is about sharing life or thought or knowledge as it unfolds and how said life/thought/knowledge affects you. So, in that vein, I blog...about Julia...and, possibly more important...about food. Hopefully, through this process I'll become less and less inclined to take the easy way out when it comes to dinner, skipping the drive through in favor of the grocery...and butter. Maybe you will, too. And, maybe, we won't gain a ridiculous amount of weight in the process.

2. Up until the movie Julie & Julia came out, my information on Julia Child was, basically, limited to Dan Ackroyd's characterization of her on Saturday Night Live. I now watch old, black and white, episodes of The French Chef via the internet and speak like Julia when I cook. I think she is wonderfully awkward and endearing. She inspires me. She makes me smile. And, most importantly for the point of this blog post, she makes me cook. She also makes me want to be French, but, that's another topic for another day.

3. I do not intend to cook through the entire book like Julie Powell did. My goal here is not to be Julie Powell 2.0. It is, simply, to share my experience of discovering Julia, real cooking, and my love-affair with both. Like Julia, I've always loved to eat but really saw cooking as a messy waste of time. I did it out of necessity, but, whenever possible, found ways to eat without cooking or even dirtying a dish. Also, like Julia, I am a bit of a late bloomer in figuring out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. This is due, in part, to the fact that for the first 40 years of my life, I was really just waiting to become a wife and mother. Long story short, here I am, neither a wife nor a mother, trying to make sense of it all while making the most of the life I have. Cooking amazingly delicious meals...just for one small part of that.

I hope you'll join me on this adventure. It should be lots of fun!

Peace, love, and butter...