Friday, October 16, 2009

Our French Chef

Two weeks ago, Bennett and I received a package from his parents in the States, which included, among many other things (such as Season Four of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and seven boxes of Kraft Mac n Cheese), a three-disk set of The French Chef with Julia Child.

I recognize this as a very strong statement, but I am speaking without hyperbole when I say that that collection has been by far my favorite thing from the whole box.

I also recognize that it’s not a coincidence that Bennett and I are now spending our nights curled up on the couch together, watching Julia Child filet fish and truss chickens, at the same time (give or take a few months, given our equatorial delay) Julie & Julia has become such big deal. Bennett’s mother, knowing I love to cook, sent me the book a few months ago, in another care package. I was so happy with it, she sent along eighteen episodes of the original Julia.

I have been a big fan of Julia Child long before I ever heard of Julie Powell – this is illustration less of my culinary savvy than my pop culture cluelessness. Food blogging, apparently for years and years, has been a popular medium of writing and reporting, of discussions and demonstrations of techniques, of food and eating, of sharing words online as you might share a meal on your kitchen table. This is all something I’d been blithely oblivious to as I paged through the “Look! We’ve got color now!”-styled photographs in From Julia Child’s Kitchen.

Yes, I’ve been a fan; a fan, though, of her written word – these episodes of The French Chef are the first I’ve ever seen of her. She’s brilliant, and brilliantly funny. Of course, she tells you, you could use canned clam broth for a base to your bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise, but she does this after cutting up pounds and pounds of fresh fish carcasses, crisp vegetables, and fat garlic, and tossing everything into a big pot brimming with excitement. How could anyone have the guts to open a can of clam juice after that?

So! Today, again, there will be no recipe, only a recommendation of a really good experience: find a couch, a loved one, and some sort of baked goods (for instance, a homemade plum tart, recipe and photo coming soon). Sit, then, and watch an icon of American television, cooking, and education chop onions for three hours. You won’t be disappointed.

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