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    Post #1 - November 17th, 2006, 9:04 am
    Post #1 - November 17th, 2006, 9:04 am Post #1 - November 17th, 2006, 9:04 am
    For those of you old enough to recall her well--and especially, perhaps, for those who are not--I highly recommend a little voyage I've just been on.

    At the public library a month ago, I happened to espy her memoir, "My Life in France." Written with her grandnephew, it takes her life from her arrival on French soil (literally, including her very first, extraordinarily memorable meal, including wanting to know what a shallot is) through "The French Chef" on WGBH. The book is heavily weighted to her years in France (roughly 1948 through the late 50s) and recounts in fascinating detail how she came to be the Julia Child we all grew to know and love. It explains in some detail where "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" came from and her love for France comes through unmistakably. The best thing about the book, other than the fact that it is so beautifully written, is that you can hear her. I mean this almost literally. More than a few times, I could swear her voice echoed in my head, for the cadences, diction, and syntax seemed to be Julia herself speaking. For anyone who loves food, I can't recommend this book enough.

    Then, just yesterday, we received volume I of "The French Chef" from Netflix. The DVD contains five shows that must be among the very first ones, if not the first. Each episode lasts about 28.5 minutes and they all date, if I am not mistaken, from 1963, the first year of the show. The production values, given the date, were surprisingly high. And watching it--and a remarkably young-appearing Julia Child (she was 50 at the time)--was a pleasure on so many levels. To have her in the room again, inimitably Julia. The mishaps, the "sloppiness," but most of all the sheer love for what she did, shone through as always.

    The show we watched included four different preparations for the humble potato and at the end it was hard not to race off to the kitchen and try the recipes. (Which prompts one observation: cooking on television today is so much different on so many levels, but one of the most basic was the lack of precision regarding measurements in 1963, something I found fascinating. And at the same time, I must say that I would have no hesitation whatsoever in trying the recipes; her directions and example were more than clear enough.)

    The DVD includes shows on bouillabaise, "french" onion soup, salade nicoise, and boeuf bourguignon. If you were never lucky enough to see Child on TV (something, I suppose, less and less likely these days), you should search for these DVDs. The later (decades-later) shows are Julia, only more so. These early shows are real treasures; she hand't yet become the famous personality and was so vividly and remarkably her unique self. The trip back in time, the opportunity to see the first (?) celebrity chef on TV, the chance to see TV from 1962 and, best of all, the chance to see Julia Child in her element is worth every effort it may require.

    Food and cooking today have become as much about celebrity and personality as about the food. And for all the chefs on Food TV (and off), very few evince the startling, visceral love for food and for cooking that Julia did. If nothing else, the book and the shows are vivid recollection of an absolute national treasure.

    (edited to correct a dumb spelling error)
    Last edited by Gypsy Boy on May 26th, 2010, 6:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #2 - November 17th, 2006, 11:15 am
    Post #2 - November 17th, 2006, 11:15 am Post #2 - November 17th, 2006, 11:15 am
    Wow -- thanks for the review. I can't wait to get the book, now.

    Also, I loved watching Julia on TV when I was a kid, and it's nice to be reminded of what fun they were.
  • Post #3 - November 17th, 2006, 11:20 am
    Post #3 - November 17th, 2006, 11:20 am Post #3 - November 17th, 2006, 11:20 am
    I've been reading "The Best Food Writing 2006" lately and there is a passage from her book in it. After reading the piece, I quickly added "My Life in France" to my "must read" list.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #4 - November 17th, 2006, 11:24 am
    Post #4 - November 17th, 2006, 11:24 am Post #4 - November 17th, 2006, 11:24 am
    I, too, thoroughly enjoyed the Julia Child book. I thought the grandnephew did an unbelievable job of capturing her voice.

    What I also liked was the portrait of France before supermarkets and other "modern" food delivery systems began to take over even in that country. I remember the description of the cheese monger who gave you the right cheese based on when you would serve it (she knew how long each piece needed to ripen); the markets with solely regional food; her cooking more fish when she lived on the south coast. She was able to develop a relationship with food that perhaps cannot be duplicated in our environment.
  • Post #5 - November 17th, 2006, 11:44 am
    Post #5 - November 17th, 2006, 11:44 am Post #5 - November 17th, 2006, 11:44 am
    HI,

    It is my understanding Alex Prud'Homme is related to Julia Child by marriage to Paul Child.

    Sounds like an interesting read.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - November 17th, 2006, 11:48 am
    Post #6 - November 17th, 2006, 11:48 am Post #6 - November 17th, 2006, 11:48 am
    You're right, Cathy2. He is the grandson of her husband's, Paul's, brother.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #7 - November 17th, 2006, 12:43 pm
    Post #7 - November 17th, 2006, 12:43 pm Post #7 - November 17th, 2006, 12:43 pm
    My Life in France is even better as a companion to the Julia biography, Appetite for Life. Also, prior to the publication of My Life in France there was an issue of Gastronomica devoted to her memory chock full of reminiscences and sundry other bio material.
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #8 - November 17th, 2006, 2:13 pm
    Post #8 - November 17th, 2006, 2:13 pm Post #8 - November 17th, 2006, 2:13 pm
    I, too have enjoyed watching those first French Chef episodes on DVD. I find her enthusiasm so completely infectious, much more so than many cooking show personalities today, who are often trying to make the food "sexy" or gimicky in some way or another. Julia makes the food desirable by her sheer happiness in working with it - it's quite refreshing.
  • Post #9 - November 19th, 2006, 12:36 pm
    Post #9 - November 19th, 2006, 12:36 pm Post #9 - November 19th, 2006, 12:36 pm
    Yesterday, I was lucky enough to happen upon a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" at a library sale--for $1. I got it home and was flipping through it, and discovered that it was autographed by Julia Child herself.

    Best $1 I ever spent...
  • Post #10 - November 19th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    Post #10 - November 19th, 2006, 9:00 pm Post #10 - November 19th, 2006, 9:00 pm
    carrienation wrote:Yesterday, I was lucky enough to happen upon a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" at a library sale--for $1. I got it home and was flipping through it, and discovered that it was autographed by Julia Child herself.

    Best $1 I ever spent...


    I'll give you $2 for it. Heck, I'll give you $3 for it.
  • Post #11 - February 3rd, 2010, 11:52 pm
    Post #11 - February 3rd, 2010, 11:52 pm Post #11 - February 3rd, 2010, 11:52 pm
    Hi,

    I watched several French Chef episodes on a dvd recently. When French Chef was on daily at noon on WTTW, it was a daily companion. I watched with fresh eyes her show. I found them still tremendously informative.

    What I enjoyed was Julia's cookware was often improvised. She was boiling onions on the Beef Bourguignon episode with a pot whose lid was a pie pan. She boiled lobsters in a pressure canner pot with a pizza pan lid. She steamed lobsters in a large aluminum roaster. Cooking Tripe a la Mode had a la Creuset dutch oven shown in passing before using a clay pot from France. She loved non-stick frying pans. There was nothing especially high end about her pots. They reminded of the motley crew I own. Her sole sponsor was Polaroid in the episodes I saw.

    In an episode, she commented approximately, "I am wiping the meat with a clean cloth towel. It really doesn't matter how you use them when you have an electric washing machine to conveniently wash them." I guess there was a day when she handwashed towels and was careful in their use. In other episodes, she had paper towels on rolls rich in the hues of the 1970's: harvest gold and avocado green.

    Julia Child used the very same Faberware Open Hearth Rotisserie mentioned by Bill/SFNM earlier this year. I was impressed by his experience as well as Geo's, it's on my list of stuff I am on the look out for. It has reached a higher level of interest since watching Julia mooning over it on her roast chicken episode.

    Julia opened her refrigerator, which I immediately recognized was a vintage Sub-Zero because the shelves in the door looked like my old refrigerator.

    In the very early 70's she was using instant read thermometers, I didn't realize they were available back then. My awareness of them wasn't until the 1980's and quite expensive as I recall.

    In her Tripe a la Mode episodie, she substituted a pig's foot for a cow's because they were easier to locate. I saw a cow foot last week in a shop less than ten minutes from my home. On this episode she had all cow stomachs intact and linked together to demonstrate. The line drawing of the cow's stomaches had a tiny 'pc' in the corner. A moment later Julia commented her husband made the drawing, but I knew this already. :D

    I really pine for the opportunity to watch the entire series once more. It taught me a lot back then, I know I could learn even more today. On the reference board, there is a link to episodes of Julia demonstrating various techniques from Baking with Julia and In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs. Unfortunately, it does not include The French Chef.

    What I can access of the French Chef, I am enjoying immensely because the technique is timeless.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - February 4th, 2010, 2:22 pm
    Post #12 - February 4th, 2010, 2:22 pm Post #12 - February 4th, 2010, 2:22 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I really pine for the opportunity to watch the entire series once more. It taught me a lot back then, I know I could learn even more today. On the reference board, there is a link to episodes of Julia demonstrating various techniques from Baking with Julia and In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs. Unfortunately, it does not include The French Chef.



    It looks like the series discs for both French Chef and French Chef 2 can be rented from Netflix.
  • Post #13 - February 4th, 2010, 5:59 pm
    Post #13 - February 4th, 2010, 5:59 pm Post #13 - February 4th, 2010, 5:59 pm
    lawoman wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:I really pine for the opportunity to watch the entire series once more. It taught me a lot back then, I know I could learn even more today. On the reference board, there is a link to episodes of Julia demonstrating various techniques from Baking with Julia and In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs. Unfortunately, it does not include The French Chef.



    It looks like the series discs for both French Chef and French Chef 2 can be rented from Netflix.

    It's probably also worth mentioning that Julia Child - The Way to Cook was recently released on DVD.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #14 - February 4th, 2010, 7:35 pm
    Post #14 - February 4th, 2010, 7:35 pm Post #14 - February 4th, 2010, 7:35 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:What I enjoyed was Julia's cookware was often improvised. She was boiling onions on the Beef Bourguignon episode with a pot whose lid was a pie pan. She boiled lobsters in a pressure canner pot with a pizza pan lid. She steamed lobsters in a large aluminum roaster...

    This reminds me that one of my favorite episodes (and one from which I took copious notes) was the one in which she demonstrated how to make both coq au vin and chicken fricasee, demonstrating that they were basically red wine and white wine versions of the same thing (minus, of course, some browning in the fricasee dish). What was cool was that instead of cooking on a stovetop, she did the whole show, both dishes, using electric tabletop covered skillets. The best moment is when she lifts up the two electric skillet lids to reveal the two finished dishes side by side, and clangs the lids together triumphantly over her head, showering herself with water drops from the condensation on the insides of the lids.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #15 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 am
    Post #15 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 am Post #15 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 am
    Hi,

    I've been watching more French Chef episodes over the last week. From the Hollandaise episode, I blanketed poached cod with Hollandaise sauce and circled them with boiled potatoes. Next time I will drain the fish just a bit better that I did. It was good enough, because not a drop was left of the sauce.

    I baked eggs in ramekins aka ouefs en cocotte: two had minced shallot on the bottom and rich tomato sauce on top circling the yolk. Another pair of eggs had grated parmesan on top and sprinkled with minced parsley.

    Today, I bought a block of Swiss cheese, because it seems to be her default cooking cheese selection. Julia's used it in a cheese soufle, filled omlettes and other egg dishes.

    This evening I made a French omelette with Swiss cheese in less a minute. It would have been 30 seconds or less if my pan had been a tad bit hotter. It didn't bunch up in the pan no matter how vigorously I shifted it back and forth. I made up for my so-so technique when I transferred it to a plate causing to fold over on itself. As Julia suggested, there was a nice eggy custard in the middle and a firm outside.

    I feel my freezer is a bit empty without a few packages of frozen leaf spinach. I may want to make creamed spinach at a moment's ntoice.. This will come in handy for filling crepes, as a bed for a molded egg or simply as a side dish.

    Fortunately, I do have plenty of butter and parsley in the house, because what dish can be presentable without it?

    I have all the books to follow the French Chef series, because they draw from The French Chef Cookbook, From Julia Child's Kitchen and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, II.

    When Julia's pommes Anna didn't unmold correctly, Julia was delighted because she could show you how to dress it up anyway. She used a spatula to remove the gorgeous crust from the bottom and replaced it on this potato cake. She then shoved any filling back into place and stuffed parsley on the edges to distract the eye from technical errors. Julia said, "One of the secrets of cooking is to learn to correct something if you can, and bear with it if you cannot."

    From reading the introduction to The French Chef Cookbook, I learned the series was filmed in uninterrupted 30 minute stretches. Consequently, there are gaffes you would not see in today's highly edited programs.
    - Clearly hear an airplane flying over;
    - Technitions speaking just under her dialogue;
    - Off stage furniture and pots clattering when she was doing nothing of the kind;
    - A microphone cable seen clearly coming from under her skirt as she walked over to the dining room;
    - Interrupts her explanation to put a dish into the oven so it will finish by the time the program is over;
    - She shows a picture of a sword fish, but the audience doesn't see it as quickly. She's moved on when we finally see it.
    - A few places where she mis-spoke were left in from referring to tomatoes as mushrooms or muffling the ingredients that were quickly corrected. I liked this style of soldiering through mistakes.

    While most ingredients she suggests as difficult are pretty easy to source today. A program on roasting suckling pig, she likely it easier to obtain than we would today. Unless I raised a suckling pig, it would be pretty difficult to obtain a 12-pound pig. Unless I did the deed and butchered it myself, which I have no plans, I would not have access to the pig's lungs for any culinary use. I would unlikely have the kidney, liver and other offal from this pig, either.

    I have a disk of desserts I haven't watched yet. It does have one my favorite episodes when she makes a Croquembouche enrobed in sugar threads. She uses a broom handle to drip sugar threads, then lifts it up and wraps the Croquembouche with it. At least that is what I recall, I cannot wait to see the real deal.

    I still hope someday to see the entire series again and not just these selected episodes. I know more today than I did when I saw them the first time around. In an episode featuring potatoes, Julia advised there are 200 French recipes for potatoes. She had demonstrated only 11 so far in the series with 189 left to show. So much to do, so little time.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 pm
    Post #16 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 pm Post #16 - March 28th, 2010, 12:43 pm
    I remember now another favorite episode, in which she demonstrates making omelettes with different ingredients for different guests. My favorite line is "... or perhaps a liver omelette; that's one you'd want to serve to your mother-in-law..."
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #17 - March 28th, 2010, 1:36 pm
    Post #17 - March 28th, 2010, 1:36 pm Post #17 - March 28th, 2010, 1:36 pm
    Katie wrote:I remember now another favorite episode, in which she demonstrates making omelettes with different ingredients for different guests. My favorite line is "... or perhaps a liver omelette; that's one you'd want to serve to your mother-in-law..."

    This episode on omelettes with the Mother-in-Law (MIL) comment are in this select group of episodes. Once she mentions MIL, she quickly inserts she has no MIL.

    I watched the Buche de Noel episode this morning. This one she did make the spun sugar 'moss' over a buttered broomstick.

    In another episode she made a strawberry whip cream cake crowned with caramel sugar dome. It was quite spectacular and something my family really would eat.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #18 - March 28th, 2010, 5:34 pm
    Post #18 - March 28th, 2010, 5:34 pm Post #18 - March 28th, 2010, 5:34 pm
  • Post #19 - May 25th, 2010, 1:15 pm
    Post #19 - May 25th, 2010, 1:15 pm Post #19 - May 25th, 2010, 1:15 pm
    Hi,

    Watching Julia Child, I have noted she makes a lot of creamed spinach, her go to cheese for cooking is Swiss, chopped chicken livers are often suggested, anything can be prettied with some parsley, cream is ever present and butter makes everything better.

    Last week, I decided spinach crepes would be wonderful for the next day's lunch. The night before I made creamed spinach generally following her instructions, except I added finely minced onion to the mix. I also made crepes, which I gently heated the next day in the microwave. At lunch, I gently heated creamed spinach on the stove and made a cheddar cheese sauce, of course Julia would have used Swiss. I assembled the crepes on oven warmed plates, because these crepes could easily lose their warmth.

    I ladled the cheese sauce with a gravy ladle, which a large one would have had the uninterrupted swoop of cheese sauce. Julia would have distracted the eye with some chopped parsley. I didn't think about until later.

    Image

    These crepes and green salad made for a midweek Francophile lunch.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 12:44 am
    Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 12:44 am Post #20 - May 26th, 2010, 12:44 am
    Those look really delicious, C2. I can almost taste the cheese sauce.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #21 - October 8th, 2013, 5:19 pm
    Post #21 - October 8th, 2013, 5:19 pm Post #21 - October 8th, 2013, 5:19 pm
    Julia Child's List of Discarded Titles For Mastering the Art of French Cooking

    In this 1960 letter from Julia Child to her editor Judith Jones, the cook and author suggests a long list of potential titles for the book that eventually sold millions of copies as Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Written from Oslo, where Child had moved with her husband Paul for his State Department job, the letter is a freewheeling brainstorm, with the eventual winner penciled in at the last minute.

    ...

    Some of the discarded titles seem to have nothing to do with the book’s essence (it is, as Regina Schrambling wrote in Slate in 2009, a rigorous tome that can "make cooking feel like brain surgery”). Cooking For Love? Cooking Is My Hobby? The Compulsive Cook? All of these suggestions are far from the serious and aspirational final choice.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - August 8th, 2017, 4:24 pm
    Post #22 - August 8th, 2017, 4:24 pm Post #22 - August 8th, 2017, 4:24 pm
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/us/j ... tcore-ipad

    A new owner is undertaking efforts to revive Mrs. Child’s Georgetown home, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.
    "Sandwiches are wonderful. You don't need a spoon or a plate!"
    Paul Lynde

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