A movie has been released recently in the US about Julia Child and Julie Powell called Julie and Julia…it hasn’t been released in the UK yet and I am anxiously awaiting its release on 11th September. I’ve heard such good things about it and, in the meantime, I have read all the necessary books. I even got a copy of the Mastering the Art of French Cooking…and I’ve been exploring and testing a recipe here and there. I’ve made crepes sucre and potage parmentier (leek and potato soup), but today I branched out to make two items I’ve never made before, potage veloute aux champignons and tarte au citron et aux amandes. Cream of mushroom soup and lemon and almond tart. They weren’t too hard to make…a lot of butter, a lot of steps.
The title Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MTAFC) alone is overwhelming. I wonder, and I’m sure others have felt the same, if the title is what makes people hesitate when it comes to cooking Julia Child’s way. Do we feel the same when cooking like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Jacques Pepin, Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart, and the many other famous TV chefs? I’m sure we do, but that shouldn’t stop us non-professionals from trying our hand at their recipes. Or is it the fact that Julia Child is the grand dame of TV chefdom and is to be revered? (In the UK, no one seems to know about Julia Child…which is quite absurd, how can anyone not know who she is????)
I’ve looked at a lot of cookbooks and MTAFC is written to help…it’s like a textbook…the recipes are written in steps identifying when a certain ingredient is needed. I love this. But I think the way it’s presented is what causes people to hesitate.
Or is it in our heads? Or is it a control thing? Am I thinking too deeply here? But let’s think about this. Do the step by step directions stop one from being creative? Do we feel stiffled by the directions and hints…things we think we should know since we’ve been cooking forever? The famous chefs seem to be creative and free, not disciplined and stiffing, and why wouldn’t we want to feel creative and free? Do we like the feeling of being directed and guided? Does it feel like Julia Child is looking over our shoulders, ready to correct like a teacher? Do you feel like you can enjoy cooking or is a chore? Are you fearful of trying something new?
When you think about how MTAFC came about and how long it took for it to be published…each recipe was tested, re-written for Americans and tested again and again. That’s what Julia did…she made sure that it was understandable for Americans, made sure ingredients could be found and if not, identified appropriate ingredients, and tested the directions to make sure they could be done. Just reading the forward of MTAFC helps you to understand what Julia and her friends were hoping to achieve…they wanted us to love to cook, feel confident in what we do, and overall to find joy in our accomplishments.
In general, I think a lot of people are fearful of trying…fearful of just giving it a go, just taking that step to try something new, to experience new things. Why is that? Why do we let things stop us from enjoying life?
Cooking Julia’s way is to experience new things, not be afraid of tackling recipes we’ve never tried, and end up feeling confident.
Have you thought about what is stopping you from trying that new thing you’ve been wanting to try for such a long time? It’s never too late.