Like so many people my age, we were aware of Julia Child in a peripheral sort of way. We knew she was a woman who cooked and had television shows and quite a number of cookbooks. The term “foodie” had not yet been invented, and the culinary arts weren’t the enormous enterprise they have become today. (Does anyone remember the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr?) It wasn’t until I saw “Julie/Julia” that I had to run out and buy Julia Child’s co-written premier cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” at the tender age of 47. Unlike Julie Powell, I have not, and will not repeat her project of cooking every recipe in the book; however, I have dabbled in a few chapters here and there. I now know how to make an omelet, something I had been making totally wrong before. I can whip up a mean tomato sauce that works on spaghetti as well as chili (I can’t think of anything French that I have needed it for!) I have also served her famous Bouef Bourguignon and found it most tasty. Her mayonnaise recipe is wonderful and the directions that she gives are so intrinsically….her you can almost imagine she’s talking directly to you. I suppose it was this running narrative throughout the book that helped make it such a big hit. Well, that and the good food.
Anyway, I spent four hours in the kitchen concocting her Coq au Vin. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but it didn’t seem to matter. The sauce was delicious! Even the onions were cooked in a special way for this recipe, which, incidentally, is the same onion recipe she employs in her Bouef Bourguignon recipe. I did double the amount so my husband could enjoy this for his dinner away from home. And I did use the instructions she gave for an electric skillet, because the amount we had was so huge it wouldn’t fit in a regular 10 or 12-inch pan. I may have misread the recipe, but I don’t think so. About halfway through her directions, she totally drops the ball on any electric skillet temperatures, so I had to figure it out myself. I was capable, of course, but if I had been a newbie cook and was really needing some numbers, this might not have turned out so well.
All in all, it was a good experience. If you’re looking for some old-school recipes that were devised before such widespread worries as calories, cholesterol, carbohydrates, etc., nip on down to your local bookstore or peruse your online book purveyor and grab this gem. Be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen, but also be prepared for callouses on your back as you pat yourself for creating such wonderfully rich and satisfying food!
P.S. – I will probably add a few more Julia Child recipes to my blog, as she has become a fave in my kitchen!