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Recipes for the Perplexed: Julia Child

I have deadlines out the wazoo, so this week instead of deep thoughts on cooking I share with you my kitchen heroine. The person who is most responsible for giving me the tools to actually cook edible food.

Yep. Julia.

It’s not because I watched her in my impressionable childhood (I remember watching her massacre French bread once while home sick with a fever and I was sure I was hallucinating). Or because she was such a formidable French chef.

It’s because Julia Child had so much fun in the kitchen and cared about doing it right. I was somebody who was too scared to even enter the kitchen with culinary intent, and Julia gave me a road map to making hearty, good food.

My well-worn cooking Bible...
My well-worn cooking Bible…

For a meditation on what cooking means, and how the celebrity of cooking has changed our perceptions of the kitchen, check out this long and thoughtful essay in the New York Times by Michael Pollan. He describes the singular appeal of Julia Child’s perspective on home cooking, for women who were looking for meaning in and out of the kitchen:

“It was a gratifying, even ennobling sort of work, engaging both the mind and the muscles. You didn’t do it to please a husband or impress guests; you did it to please yourself. No one cooking on television today gives the impression that they enjoy the actual work quite as much as Julia Child did. In this, she strikes me as a more liberated figure than many of the women who have followed her on television.”

Today I cooked lamb chops for the guys, using the recipe in this loved-to-death cookbook, and I thought I’d recommend it to you if you are still learning techniques. As she says, a roast is a roast, and a saute is a saute. Once you’ve got the hang of a technique and make it yours, you’ve expanded your cooking repetoire forever.

So if you too are still a student of the kitchen, I strongly recommend you start here, with this masterwork of Julia Child: The Way To Cook. Bon appetit :)

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