Monday, April 20, 2009

Julia and Jacques - Being Passionate About Food

Julia Child once said, “I started cooking when I was 32; up until then I just ate.” Just eating is something you might never do again, if you take the time to peruse and use the cookbooks that this pair of famous and fabulous cooks have produced.

The French cooking bible has to be Mastering the Art of French Cooking, first written and produced by Julia Child and her partner, Simone Beck in 1961. Directions are detailed and very explicit but the food that results is beyond belief. (I remember carefully following her recipe for Navarin Printanier – lamb stew – a full 3 pages long. It took a while, but the taste of that stew, served to company , was more than worth the time.)

Jacques Pepin also has quite a few cookbooks to his credit, but most recently he seems to be catering to the modern predicament of “so much to do, so little time” and has come up with Fast Food My Way and More Fast Food My Way.

Both have written memoirs that recount interesting and unusual lives. During World War II Julia worked for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in Washington DC, and married Paul Cushing Child shortly thereafter. He was posted to Paris, France in 1948 and it was in Rouen that Julia was introduced to French cooking. She later described this experience for the New York Times as “an opening up of the soul and spirit.” Julia Child’s kitchen is preserved and on display at the National Museum of American History. My Life in France recounts Julia’s introduction to French cooking.

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen introduces us to a young Jacques Pepin, who was born in France and grew up not only eating French food but cooking it as well, first in his father’s restaurant and then as an apprentice to famous chefs. He was once the personal chef for French President Charles DeGaulle.

Both had television shows, and DVDs are available that show us these cooks at work. The French Chef series with Julia Child not only demonstrates her fabulous cooking skills, but gives us a glimpse of the funny, astute and very practical women who was Julia Child. The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes presents Chef Pepin’s unique style of cooking.

Their collaborative cookbook, Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, brings these chefs together offering (in print and on DVD) a host of information on cooking techniques (they don’t always agree – and sometimes those disagreements are the most fun to read or hear about) and marvelous recipes for every home chef. Meg



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