My Life in France

I just finished reading Julia Child’s My Life in France.  It’s great.  And rare, it seems.  She’s so unpretentious — her pure love of food exudes from the pages.  The first half of the book is especially captivating.  She had me fantasizing about living in post-war France, eating beautiful meals and drinking top tier wines on the cheap. Not to mention, spending days in Paris wandering between the olive oil store, the creamery and the vegetable stalls.

But, the most exciting fact from the book? She didn’t cook at all until she was 36!  It gives me some hope for my own cooking!  Also, for those of you who are feeling a bit professionally under-accomplished (like myself), she was around 50 when she published her first cookbook and started piecing together her TV show (here’s a bunch of her TV shows— the Cheese Souffle one is cracking me up). I’m taking that to mean there’s still loads of time to figure out a career…

In addition to her age, I was fully impressed by the attention and devotion she gives each and every recipe that she cooks. I mean, months and months of trial and error for every single recipe.  I came to the somewhat disappointing realization that in order to learn to cook well, it doesn’t just take some sort of magical intuition, but lots of practice.

After reading the book, it seems to me that there may be more veggie food in her repertoire that I had previously thought.  I assumed she was all about things like bouillabaisse and pressed duck, but she mentions plenty of vegetable preparations and pastries/breads. I’m now feeling inspired to take the plunge on Mastering the Art of French Cooking (she writes both volumes during the course of My Life in France).  It’s been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for more than three years!  Hmm.

Does anyone use Mastering the Art of French Cooking? What are other favorite cookbooks that offer both recipes and instruction?