Eric Gower (gower) Mon 5 Dec 05 11:07
And Jill -- get better!
Jill Davidson (jilld) Mon 5 Dec 05 11:10
work and family demand a lot of my time, but I think I think about and read about food, and at least a few night a week after the kids go to bed cook, and consider making food a good use of my time nearly anytime because that carves out the time that you are referring to, Julie and Eric. the subject of what we are going to eat next is rarely far from my mind. but it would be really hard for me to execute many French Cooking sorts of items. I just don't have THAT kind of time most of the time, except after 9pm, hence my gratitude at being able to read all about it through you, Julie. gratitude - and sometimes, as your writing really vividly conveys, immense relief that it was you, not me. I have actually made only one Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe, and it's from Volume 2 - Poires Meringuees, au Sabayon. Took a couple of hours and it's one of the very few cooking project my husband and I ever did together. lotta steps, and excellent result. I've used her later cookbooks, particularly Way to Cook, much more often.
Jill Davidson (jilld) Mon 5 Dec 05 11:11
thanks for the get better wishes! I am totally better - one of those 24 hours deals, happily all gone.
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 5 Dec 05 15:16
Glad you're better, Jill. One of the MtAoFC recipes I've done is the Potages Parmentier, which I cooked because of Julie's chapter on it. And it *was* "simplicity itself" and it *was* delicious and I asked myself, "Why don't I do this every night?"
Carl LaFong (mcdee) Mon 5 Dec 05 16:22
I made a mental note of that one as well. OTOH, true to form, I'll probably buy a food mill first.
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Mon 5 Dec 05 16:43
Well, that's the thing... there are lots and lots of things in MtAoFC that are extremely fiddly and difficult - you can find lots easier versions of cassoulet or fricassee or whatever in other places. I would say that often (not always) JC's extra steps are worth it, when you're really looking for an extraordinary result. But there are other things in the book that are completely simple, and yet retain that rewarding feeling you get just from making something that tastes totally, I don't know, genuine. She has a soup that's basically just a broth of garlic and water and some seasonings, and then you poach an egg in it, and it's just lovely. Excellent hangover or cold food. In retrospect, I think that the most important thing about the project was the way it altered my perception of time. Taking something many of us do and just letting it sort of take over the spine of my life, so that cooking was not just something I squeezed in but the armature of my existence. My job became the thing that needed squeezing in. Which was much a better way to go....
Casey Ellis (caseyell) Mon 5 Dec 05 16:56
the leek and potato soup *is* dead easy -- and at one point in my life was one of the few things all 3 of my kids would eat. not long ago my son (who 39) asked me to e-mail is wife "your recipe for Green Soup". I often used a lot more leek tops than JC called for. I've made a lot of dishes from Mastering. I certainly didn't do the entire book, but when I was stranded in Texas in the early 60s with nary a decent restaurant closer than New Orleans, I found great comfort in opening Mastering and learning to turn out first-rate food. Julie mentioned the cassoulet. I think that's a perfect example of a recipe where the additional steps are truly worth the effort. I was at a restaurant with friends on two occasions recently--once in SF and once in Santa Cruz, where several of us ordered cassoulet--and it was good, but nothing compared to Julia's.
Carl LaFong (mcdee) Mon 5 Dec 05 17:08
One of the things I like about learning good cooking at home is that it's not really all *that* hard to make something that is better than 98% of restaurant meals.
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Tue 6 Dec 05 05:56
Oh, I've gotten totally obnoxious about eating out - 9 times out of 10 it just irritates the shit out of me. Buy a bottle of wine with dinner and soon you're looking at $100, for mediocre crap food. There are very few places I want to shell out for anymore....
Jill Davidson (jilld) Tue 6 Dec 05 10:17
so what's the best place you have eaten lately? I am going to guess that book touring may have taken you to some interesting (great? awful?) places. maybe I should say, if you are willing to name names, what's the worst, or most disappointing? you're touring now, right? where are you (if you'd like to say)? not asking you to recycle your current blog, but we, Well people, are all over and maybe could come say hi.
Carl LaFong (mcdee) Tue 6 Dec 05 10:50
I have developed the same attitude as Julie re: eating out. We've probably cut our dining out expenses 90% since I started cooking. Which isn't to say that there aren't some amazing professional cooks out there. But those are the only ones whose food I want to eat at this point. And sure, I'll still go out for cheap, fun meals, especially stuff that's easier to make in quantity in a restaurant than at home (tamales, for example). When forced to dine out on business, etc., I usually do something snarky like order a dish I make all the time myself and see how theirs is. Now and then I'm humbled and pleasantly surprised, but mostly I just become more insufferable. A modest priced Italian place around the corner makes carbonara so much better than my own that I've gone completely back to the drawing board.
Kathy (kathbran) Tue 6 Dec 05 15:51
>Well, that's the thing... there are lots and lots of things in MtAoFC >that are extremely fiddly and difficult... This reminds me that my sister-in-law gave my mother a copy of MtAoFC. My mother selected a recipe that included green beans, and they both got serious cases of the giggles while they were drying each washed bean separately before beginning to cook them.
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Wed 7 Dec 05 10:48
My favorite, as I talk about in the book, is JC's rice recipe that has you boil a cup of rice in something like 10 quarts of water, then drain it, rinse it, and steam it in cheesecloth. Bitch Rice, I call it.... I'm actually pretty much done with the tour, though I was in Natick, MA, of all places, last night. Kind of a terrible strip-mall-y sort of place. Real suburbia. Had a dinner event at a place called Maxwell's 148. The food is Italian and Asian. Not fusion. Just Italian dishes and Asian dishes. A little odd. But for the event the chef cooked Julia recipes. It was okay. I find that chefs, under the obligatory JC reverence, are a bit contemptuous of her food. Which makes sense, since what's she's doing is a whole different thing than restaurant cooking. It's almost impossible to do her recipes in a professional setting. It's food that tastes better when it's made at home, somehow. Where have I eaten on tour? Gosh... There's actually been lots of room service. That and French food, of course. I had a fantastic meal in Portland, and this lovely restaurant in a renovated warehouse, but of course I can't remember the name of it. And my hotel in Boston, I think it was called the Elliot, supposedly has a great restaurant in it, but I never got to eat there. I just had a gimlet. Which they made with real lime juice instead of Rose's - blech. In terms of great places I've eaten lately - In one week I went to both Esca and Cesca in New York. Esca was not quite as great as I remembered, but Cesca was lovely as usual. Though I thought I was going to die when I was done....
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 7 Dec 05 13:05
I've waited 'til Wednesday to ask, incredulously: Eggs, really? It took Julia Child to turn you on to eggs? While I credit you, personally, for the return of the Gimlet.
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Wed 7 Dec 05 13:53
Thank you. I credit myself with the return of the gimlet, too. As far as eggs go - yeah, I know. I just managed to avoid them. I hated the smell of them. Hated the look of them. By the time that project had started, I could manage them scrambled or in a omelet, as long as there was sufficient cheese about to disguise the egginess. I don't know what to day. It's embarrassing.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 7 Dec 05 14:08
Interesting. I've known people who raised their own small flock of hens who swore that store bought eggs are vile, and even smell like chemicals when you crack them. And I've known those who find ZZ
Eric Gower (gower) Wed 7 Dec 05 15:26
Hey Julie, how's that black tub of yours doing? (I am sure Wellperns who haven't read the book/blog will be curious about it) And I adore your riffs on "stalker food," and why Martha is so much better at it than Julia.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 7 Dec 05 15:52
(pardon my truncated post. I was gonna ask something about learning to eat eggs but I forget what it was!) What's stalker food?
Eric Gower (gower) Wed 7 Dec 05 20:41
One of my favorite lines from the book: "Laughter through nausea is my favorite emotion."
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 8 Dec 05 09:09
Reminder: Those playing along at home can join in the conversation by e- mailing their question, answer, or other contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org to be posted on their behalf by one of the congenial hosts of the Inkwell.
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Thu 8 Dec 05 16:15
Ah, the black tub. It's about as horrible as usual. Perhaps a little worse. The apartment is fucking falling down around our ears. We have to get out of there before either the roof caves in, we freeze to death, or I enter a psychotic fugue and do myself or my husband an injury. Stalker food is simply food that is convenient for stalkers to use - neat, packable treats that can easily be left on doorsteps or shuttled back stage to hopefully impress whatever semi-famous actor you may be in love with. Julia's never been much good at it - her food is sloppy, sticky, smelly. Martha's all about the packable. I sure would like to know who Martha's stalked. Surely it happened, sometime when she was younger. She has that steely obsessiveness. You know she did. What was the other thing? Oh, yes - Laughter through Nausea. Embarrassingly, that's cribbed from "Steel Magnolias." Only of course there it's Laughter through Tears. It's a terrible play, but I played Ouiser in it in high school, and some of those lines just stuck.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 10 Dec 05 10:50
I've had people tell me the eggs from my chickens taste fabulous. Honestly, I don't notice the difference in taste. What I notice is the difference in the way they look -- tight, upright, deeply golden yolks. Makes me wonder how old the eggs in supermarkets are.
Daniel Loftin (dedwardloftin) Sun 11 Dec 05 12:51
I really love the idea of food as meditation, in the sense that it gives a new mind-set, a new sense of time, a center to the day, and you get to eat it! My guru of long ago was the reknowned Fanny Farmer, of the 1918 edition. Her recipes were hopelessly complex, and some were downright scary. Her turtle soup started with a Live! turtle. The more recent editions unaccountably left that one out. Do you look forward to being able to prepare food every day, or has the book tour pulled you out of that groove?
Julie Powell (juliepowell) Sun 11 Dec 05 14:28
Now that I'm more or less done with touring, I'm getting back into a cooking groove, but I have to say that I love not having to do it every single day. My husband is getting into the kitchen more and more - he's still a bit of a disaster, but often what he makes tastes great. Just don't let him get near your computer. He tried to install some thing called Tiger on my laptop whilst drunk, and now it's got the spinning beach ball of death. Sucks.
Casey Ellis (caseyell) Mon 12 Dec 05 15:46
Clearly he needs to get back in the kitchen and cook you something wonderful for dinner.
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