Saturday, January 30, 2010

Me and Julia

So here we are; another year and a fresh start to new possibilities and dreams. Over the holidays I finally had the chance to see Julie and Julia and I must say as a foodie, the movie was both captivating and inspiring. Meryl Streep did an exceptional job in portraying the icon of gourmet cooking, Julia Child. I admit to having come across Ms. Child’s book some years ago, when at first glance appeared so intimidating based on volume alone. After all, the book is 684 pages! With the birth of the Food Network, advent of the internet and newer cookbooks, I prematurely thought a cookbook on French cuisine, published some 40 years ago was hardly relevant to today’s cooks.

Since watching the movie, I decided to check the book out at the local library and see what the hype was all about. First, let me start off by saying that I day dream about food. Yes, you read it correctly. I think about different types of cuisines, dishes, techniques, ingredients, etc. ALL DAY LONG. Since my trip to France, I’ve often wondered what it is that distinguishes French cuisine from American. Other than the obvious, the French considered food as a means of expression, lifestyle and nourishment. Meals are consumed slowly to savor the taste, texture, aroma while spending time with others. Consideration is given to ingredients at their beginnings whether it is the quality of the produce, the condition of the soil or the diet fed to animals supplying meat and dairy because the best dishes start out with the best ingredients. Ms. Child's book explains French cooking in very practical and simple terms including helpful tips to ensure the result is the same as if dining on the Champs Elysees. The book took some years to complete and rightfully so as each section from soups to eggs, entrees, fish and poultry list the ingredients and instructions in order making a home cook feel like an experienced chef. The ingredients are simple and common place in American supermarkets which is encouraging to the layperson. Transforming simple ingredients into a Poulet au Porto (roast chicken steeped in port wine, cream and mushrooms) or Boeuf a la Mode (beef braised in red wine) paired with a complimentary wine can be turned into an extravagant feast.

So here I go, about to embark on a mission to cook most, if not all of the recipes from this Masterpiece. By no means will I be able to recreate all the dishes in a year (or two for that matter), but I will cherish each whiff of melting butter, dollop of heavy cream and savory, tender bite of meat morsel along the way.

Thanks Julia (& Julie).