Friday, July 31, 2009

Julia Child and James Beard

This new movie coming out Julie and Julia looks like it will be a lot of fun. I have a soft feeling for Julia Child because I learn to cook by watching her shows and hers and James Beard's cookbooks were my favorite ones to go to. The kids and I use to make fun of Julia's way of talking and the every present glass of wine, but I made some really amazing things from her books. I really learned a lot of the basics from James Beard. I didn't know much about cooking when I got married, but I think Julia's TV program really encouraged me to try new things and I loved the adventure. She was really my mentor. Then cooking and cooking classes became very popular and I loved the inspiration and just learning new things about food.

I was just looking at one of Julia's books that I still have for a recipe I remember making it was called The Los Gatos Gateau Cake. It was meringue-nut layers with an apricot filling and iced with buttercream and sprinkled with almonds. It was part of a menu

  • Chesapeake Lump Crabmeat Appetizer

  • Roast Duck with Cracklings

  • Puree of Parsnips in Zucchini Boats

  • Broccoli with Brown Butter and Lemon

  • The Los Gatos Gateau Cake

  • Suggested wines: Chablis with the crab;

  • Burgundy or Pinot Noir with the duck;

  • Sauternes or Champagne with the gateau

I'm sure I didn't make the whole menu, but I remember making the cake more than once it was one of our favorites. This is from Julia Child & Company.

I enjoyed watching her shows with Jacques Pepin when she got older. They both approached French cooking in different ways and she always stuck to what she thought was best. When I first started reading watching her program I don't think I ever thought French cooking was something I could do, but she took all of the mystery out of it and really simplified it.

I'm nostalgic about my old cookbooks and the memories but I do think cooking has grown by leaps and bounds. It's possible to get much better products and equipment now and because a lot of us have had the chance to eat in wonderful restaurants our palate is much better and we expect our food to be of a higher quality. When you have a good product it doesn't need that much done to it. The sauces are much lighter and flavorful in today's cooking. Learning technique is important and that's where the older cookbooks are good. Julia took you step by step and taught lots of technique, but she also had a way of making it not so intimidating.

I use to love Food Network and am sorry to see that they seem to becoming more entertainment oriented and less real teaching of basic technique.

James Beard was on TV too, but I remember him more for his cookbook. I had his basic cookbook and wore it out. I leaned how to cook basic things like roasting meat and his recipes were more standard things like chicken salad, but he loved cooking and learned from his mother who also was a wonderful cook and I loved his recipes and ideas. Just reading him talk about food and his childhood of enjoying food was inspiring to me. I have his cookbook where he tried to change his recipe to be healthier, because he and Julia used lots of butter and fat.

What are your food memories. I'd love to read about it.


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