Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Mastering the Art...
As you may well know, I've just finished reading My Life in France by Julia Child. I thought I knew how to bake a cake. I thought I knew how to roast a chicken. Now, I feel like I don't know a single thing!
The book is an autobiography covering about 30 years of Child's life, in France and other places, focusing on how French cooking became her passion and how she was determined to make French cuisine (considered by most to be a high art) an accessible reality to the American housewife. About half of the book chronicles the arduous task of writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Naturally, when I found myself with some walking-around-time yesterday afternoon, I popped into the library to check the book out and see if it's all it is cracked up to be. It is that, and so much more.
To be honest, I am very well aware that the classic cookbook is on every cookbook shelf in every bookstore in the country, but it has never inspired me, until now. It seemed so hoity-toity... and boring. But knowing the background and the original purpose of the book, I am so much more appreciative of Child's unstoppable curiosity and decade of hard work.
I I have always made cakes via Alton Brown's "creaming method"(creaming the butter and sugar together as the first step). Did you know that there is also a "ribbon method" (creaming the eggs and sugar together as the first step) that produces a completely different result? Did you also know that a cake leavened with whipped egg whites will pull away from the pan on its own instead of a cake made with baking powder that sticks to the pan sides?
So yes, I am more than a little bit inspired. There will be cake baking in my kitchen this week; gateau a l'orange, perhaps? Stay tuned.