Wednesday, July 22, 2009
While my dear friend Stephanie was visiting me here in DC a couple weeks ago, we popped into a Barnes & Noble where I stumbled upon a display of My Life in France, by Julia Child. While I vaguely recall watching The French Chef (Julia Child's PBS cooking show) with my mom when I was about 5 years old, and while I'm certainly familiar with all the jokes about her voice and manner of speaking I realized that I didn't know much about her.
I decided to buy it.
When I actually picked it up to read it a couple days ago, I was quite pleased to discover that I just couldn't put it down. The book is fabulous (and I heartily recommend it to anyone with even the vaguest interest in cooking, france, julia child, or food in general). A memoir, the book begins with her move to post-war Paris with her husband Paul. She was in her mid-thirties and didn't know anything about French or cooking. The book then follows her growth from a pasadena housewife who could barely cook a meal to the author of the groundbreaking book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II as well as numerous other books and a thoroughly successful cooking show. In fact, though other chefs had attempted cooking shows before her, hers was the first one to reall click...something anyone who has an unhealthy obsession with The Food Network - myself included - should consider!
One of the things that really got to me in this book was Julia's description of the process by which she learned to cook. The apartment she and Paul had in Paris had what could hardly be described as the ideal kitchen for learning the art la cuisine bourgeois (middle class French cooking...what we generally consider "Classic French Food"). This got me to thinking that having a crummy kitchen is no excuse for not cooking and baking. Especially when food is one of my strongest passions. I've cooked food in the dorms before - something sort of thrown together here or something there, nothing really good.
Thanks to Julia Child, however, I've resolved to put that behind me and really commit myself to feeding my passion for being in the kitchen. I'll be adventurous. I'll expand my culinary horizons and take on new and exciting dishes just because I can - in spite of my limitations as a college student living in the Residence Halls.
In putting my foot down on that, I feel like I've made one of those decisions where I'm saying "yes. I AM going to be myself and do what I want to do for myself." I couldn't be more excited.
I'm also going to have to pick up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking...and possibly a DVD box set of The French Chef.