Juliet Child’s kitchen as re-created in the Smithsonian Museum
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The papers this week were full of articles about the 100th anniversary of Julia Child‘s birth on July 15, 1912. Restaurants are having special dinners and foodies are having birthday parties.
Julia Child and David Letterman
YouTube posted a video of Julia Child and David Letterman. It demonstrates her ability to improvise and the qualities that made her a celebrity. It is worth every minute of watching. I laughed out loud (or LOL as your grands would text on their phones) watching this.
If you want to make the screen larger on a video, put your cursor over the image at the extreme right. It will say—full screen. Click. You can always return to regular size by using the ESC key on your computer. (on the very top row, extreme left.)
If you want to skip or go back to see again, put your cursor on the small white and red ball on the left and move it to the position you want.
More than a cook and a TV star.
Writing a cookbook and becoming a TV star alone cannot create some such a celebrity that she is remembered—–like Einstein and Mozart——on the centennial of their births.
Best Julia Child Centennial Presentation
I think that the best Julia Child Centennial presentation come from Bio.com. which is a multimedia mega site that I highly recommend—-definitely 5 stars. Click on julia-child-9246767 to hear and read about why Julia Child’s centennial birthday is being so fully observed.
Early vocation ideas. I also discovered this video of Child at age 95 explaining her early work experiences and her joining O.S.S. during WWII. She talks about women of her period having few vocational opportunities. It is interesting that she wanted to be a writer and had a job in public relations—–little hints of what would make her famous.
But can you cook from Julia’s cookbook?
Amid all this glory I found a 2009 article written by Regina Schrambling on Slate.com an award-winning online e-magazine featuring “analysis and commentary about politics, news, business, technology and culture” entitled ‘Don’t Buy Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”: You will never cook from it.’
She states that “it will remain sitting decoratively on your kitchen bookshelf or nightstand in pristine condition just like thousands of other copies of this acclaimed cookbook.”
Julia’s recipes were written for “rigorous cooks with endless patience for serious detail.”
If, after 26 years of cooking for a living, I am worn out just reading those recipes, I can only imagine how a newbie who can barely identify a whisk will do.
Although Child may have changed the food interests of Americans, today all that butter, meat stuffed with kidneys and “simple sautéed veal scallops with mushrooms involv[ing] 18 ingredients and implements and two pages of instruction” doesn’t match our life preferences. Schrambling suggests looking at other cookbooks.
My Own Cookbook Shelves
That sent me looking at my own aging cookbook shelves. I started giving three-course dinner parties at the age of 16 and am still enjoy cooking and entertaining for ——– many, many, many years. Despite having downsized and most often using recipes from the internet, I still have many, many well-worn cookbooks.
However a few are just like new—-trophies to the past.
Among them sits Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, a gift dated 1963. Signs of having tried a few recipes can be spotted on a few pages. In fact, just last year —with the movie “Julia and Julia”—I gave a Julia Child dinner party and tried to use the easiest recipes. I failed.
Could Regina Schrambling be right? You will never cook from Child’s “Mastering….”.
The Best of Antique Cookbooks
Which of may old, now antique, cookbooks have I used the most? Which would I recommend to you as being easy to cook from with delicious recipes? Much to my delight they are still available today on used-book sites. They are available for very little money and are well worth the effort of buying online.
“Thoughts for Buffets” (1958) and “Thoughts for Festive Foods” (1964). My first post- “Betty Crocker”, more gourmet cookbooks were the then best-sellers “Thoughts for Buffets”and “Thoughts for Festive Foods” by a group of Chicago hostesses who simply identify themselves as “the authors”. I still cook from these book that are held together with duck-tape.
My brisket recipe
Despite many other sources, I still use their brisket recipes, wild rice Portuguese and old-fashioned noodle pudding. Ingredients are mostly still available. Recipes are presented within menus.
These books are available at alibris.com, “the premier online marketplace for independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies, as well as rare and collectible titles.”
Most Used Vintage Local Cookbooks
Some of the best cooking comes from local cookbooks created by churches, schools and charity organizations. I had hundreds. When I down-sized, I kept four.
The Cancer Association “Minnesota Heritage Cookbook” I and II. I have used and cherish “Minnesota Heritage Cookbook I: Hand-Me-Down Recipes” (1979) with recipes from many cultures and “Minnesota Heritage Cookbook II: Look What’s Cooking Now!” (1985) with modifications to make the recipe more healthful, both by the American Cancer Society, Minnesota Division. In fact, I used them so much that they have fallen apart and are stored in zip-bags. Great and easy Beef Bouruignon, American Depression Fudge and Perfect Divinity. The Garden Lasagne for which I’m famous and that Technicolor Borscht.
There are more 100,000 copies in print. I found them on the Barnes and Noble website, which also is a good source for used books.
“Food for Show, Food on the Go!” (1983). Written by the Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary “Food for Show, Food on the Go!” not only has wonderful recipes but also is organized to reflect very busy lifestyles. Each recipe is identified if it is appropriate for “showing-off” and if it is easy to make, “go”. My favorites are a fancy antipasto (show), beer cheese soup (show and go), my “secret Chinese chicken wings —please don’t tell anyone— (show and go), the absolutely easiest caramel corn (show and go) and most of all nut goodie bar candy (show).
“Land of Cotton” (1988) If you want to know what is real southern cooking, “Land of Cotton” compiled by the parents of John T Morgan Academy, Selma, Alabama, is your source. They have sold more than 100,000 cookbooks. Here is the source of the recipes for my thousand island dressing, macaroni and cheese deluxe, fresh apple birthday cake and black bottom pie.
The cookbook is still evoking with new recipes being added to each addition. You can buy the new edition from the school. Email –firstname.lastname@example.org ($21.95 plus $4.95 shipping per book)
I found that it was available used from several sources. biblio.com, another on-line book company that also has vintage books, has a book from the 17th printing.
Featured Websites for Vintage Books
Note:There are several sites that specialize in just cookbooks. Since I have not had any experience with them and they did not appear in my searches for my books, I have not included them.