Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Guiltily remembering Julia

In a nice testimony in today's Times by a woman who is about to publish a book about cooking all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, we learn that there seems to have been a run on Dover sole in Manhattan this past Saturday, "an event which inspires heartwarming visions of a city of cooks simultaneously yanking the skins off flatfish in fond memory of Julia Child."

I too wanted to cook something for her, to her, but I let her down. I searched up and down for the one Julia Child cookbook I know I used to own. Not a classic French cooking one, but one probably from the late 1970s, probably called Julia Child & Company, like one version of her TV show. A tall thin trade paperback with lots of how-to pictures--I can just see it, but I cannot swear that I ever cooked anything out of it, and it's probably been lost now for years. All my cooking life I have intended, but not seriously enough, to follow Julia Child.

My most intensive cooking days were when I was young and single and first on my own. I would prepare elaborate meals for myself, but in small portions, little meal-lettes. I tried to follow Stanley Marcus' advice of not eating anything that wasn't truly wonderful, and not very much of it at that. I was probably anorexic.

I did faithfully watch Julia Child on TV in those years, sometimes copying down recipes. Still, I don't recall ever making them. That may be because what I wrote down in haste was not quite complete. I think I meant to find the real recipes. They may well be in the book I've lost.

Here are two from my files. Note no vegetables. In later years she said she deplored the trend of grilled vegetables: they were raw and burned at the same time. The quote at the end is vintage Julia Child. Bon appetit!

Lamb skewered (7-8 min. on each side)

Don't overcook. Should feel springy.
1/2 lb. per person, 1 1/2 in. cubes, inside of leg of lamb.
Marinade 30 min. in olive oil, lemon peel & 1/2 lemon juice, rosemary, salt & pepper
Alternate w/bacon, blanched in water.
Flat skewers are best.

[untitled] 2-3 min.

Lightly salt & pepper scallops (or other seafood). Flour them at the last minute. Drain excess flour off.
Use wooden skewers if possible. Wet 10-15 min.
Bay leaf-skewer (not quite) alternately.
Paint w/melted butter & fresh bread crumbs.

"When you have something awfully good, you don't need to muck it up with too many spices."

No comments: