The Art of French Cooking

March 25th, 2011 | Rachel

Exciting day!  As mentioned in my previous post, I recently cashed in on a promised gift of a cookbook and today received my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

I was a little put off from getting these books after the whole Julie and Julia craze (although admittedly I love the Julia Child storyline of that movie, which was pulled straight from her memoir).  A few months later I was reading Martha Stewart’s The Martha Rules where Martha describes the kinds of jobs she had before authoring a book on entertaining and becoming the Empress of Domestic Arts.  She was a model, a stock broker, and a real estate agent, and then one day she decided to start her own catering business.  As she got into the catering biz, she taught herself how to cook by cooking all of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Just like that.  No year-long fanfare or movie deal as a result.  Martha Stewart wanted to improve her cooking, so she cooked Julia Child’s recipes.

And so, because I love French food, I am going to follow the careful instruction of Julia Child and teach myself how to cook.

Until I come up with something better, I have put my new cookbooks in a place of honor next to my prized KitchenAid Pro 600 and food processor.

I’m still trying to decide what to attempt to cook first this weekend.  So far, in the running are:

  • Soup a l’oignon gratinee
  • Quiche lorraine
  • Boeuf bourguignon
  • Ratatouille
  • Poulet roti


I really need to figure out how insert letters with accents.  The only way I know how to do it is to copy and paste from random words on the interweb that happen to have the accent I want.  Anyone out there familiar with WordPress and know how to insert letters with accents?

Anyway, I digress.

I picked some pretty typical French dishes, and I am wondering if they are so popular simply for lack of further investigation or because they are that good.  I suspect the latter.

I’m a little intimidated by the thought of cooking roasted chicken because it is my favorite thing to order from French restaurants and because 99.9% of chicken attempts in the universe end up dry or flavorless or both.  I’m afraid of insulting the entire genre of French cuisine by cooking dry chicken.  And so, roasted chicken will wait.

The mostly likely choice is French onion soup, but it’ll be a game time decision, and by game time, I mean before the 6pm deadline tomorrow for ordering my groceries from Fresh Direct so they will be delivered Saturday morning.

Here’s a sneak peak into my tiny Manhattan kitchen.  Gourmet cooking is especially fun when it involves a miniature stove and a 4×6 nook known in city-speak as an “eat-in kitchen.”

I have two little touches of France in my kitchen so far: a grater shaped like the Eiffel Tower and a calendar of France photos my brother gave me for Christmas (above).  This month is the amazing Mont St. Michel, which I visited back in 2003.

Its hard to tell the exact scale of my kitchen appliances (left), but both the stove and the refrigerator are miniature.  The foot and a half of counter space you see in the picture is all the kitchen came with.  Having been raised in the land of open kitchens (a/k/a The South), it’s been quite an adjustment.

Since I am doing a little show and tell of my kitchen, I’d also like to point out the hand woven rug (left) that I picked up in Marrakesh, the string of prayer flags (above) that I recently got in Tibet, and the fan on the wall (above) that I purchased in Rome when it was approximately 1000 degrees outside.

Check back in after the weekend to see what I have attempted to cook.  Also check back in the next couple of weeks because I am starting to get some exciting guest writers lined up!

5 Responses to “The Art of French Cooking”

  1. Tim says:

    As familiar as I am with wordpress, the accented letters has nothing to do with it. To use them, however, you need to use an ALT+ command…. all the characters and their codes are on this page. You hold the alt key down and type the 4 digit code for the letter….this is of course assuming you are using Windows…if you’re on a mac I have no idea. Good blog though….nice read.

  2. Laurel says:

    My brother cooks Julia Child’s french onion soup recipe all the time, and it usually takes him the better part of a Sunday afternoon. I might also suggest “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones. She was Julia’s editor and published her first book at Knopf. She cooks much in the style of Julia–real food, lots of butter, French recipes, etc.–but with tips and tricks to turn one meal’s leftovers into something entirely different for the next. I cooked my way through it in my tiny DC kitchen, and there’s often just enough, in fact, for 2, so hungry boyfriends could be fed as well : )

  3. Harmony says:

    I absolutely adore Ratatouille, my mom makes it and it is not only scrumptious but so very healthy. I would, however, like to see you tackle Boeuf bourguignon, because apparently there are thousands of steps and is very difficult. Why not start the journey off with something difficult and gain your French cuisine confidence?

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