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The New York Times has a front-page article in this morning’s newspaper sneering at Julia Child: her cookbooks actually use butter, pork fat, and gelatin! Instead of admiring her beautifully written recipes, the author of the article showcases a novice cook who makes beef bourguignon by opening soup cans.

No, I have not cooked all of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’ve cooked a lot of them. Some recipes I return to and cook again and again, because they taste so delicious. The recipes in her cookbook are memorable; I can still savor the Chicken Tarragon in Aspic (page 549) that I ate at a friend’s house in 1988. Her recipes are also very clearly written and guide you every step of the way. Julia Child does not just list ingredients and direct to cook until done, she tells the reader exactly how the dish will look at each step of preparation. “Mastering the Art” is a great cookbook for a beginner.

If you just got her cookbook and don’t know where to begin, here is my list of wonderful Julia Child recipes, butter and flavor included:

  • Onion Soup on page 43 
  • Coquilles St. Jacques on page 216
  • Roast Goose with Prunes and Foie Gras Stuffing on page 283 (or just make the yummy prunes and eat them!)
  • Tournedos Rossini on page 299
  • Navarin of Lamb on page 345
  • Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka on page 349 (my husband’s favorite)
  • Cassoulet on page 401
  • her method of cooking fresh artichoke hearts on page 430 is quite clever and good
  • the most satisfying Soubise on page 485 (I call it French risotto)
  • Apple Charlotte on page 623 (my husband’s favorite dessert)

Join us for some Julia Child-inspired cooking classes.

3 Comments for “In Defense of Julia Child”  

  1. @techguerilla

    I have to say that the NYT article, while poorly written, wasn’t something I would describe as “sneering”. Appeared to be a writer making a comment about booksales, and desperately surrounding it with enough fluff and “controversy” to try and make it interesting. The notion that we as a nation care so much about fat and calories is laughable. Sure it gets lots of press, but have you seen our waistlines lately?

    My favorite part of the article is the lady who is so concerned about the fat in boeuf bourguignon that she turns to a can of cream of mushroom soup. Oh the irony. She most definitely needs someone to come to her defense! I suppose great food in moderation vs. crap food in large portions simply never occurred to her.

  2. Anne

    Thank you for your insights!

    The part I found sneering was the opening sentence: “Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list, bringing with it all the butter, salt, and goose fat that home chefs had largely abandoned in the age of Lipitor.”

    The implication is, aren’t we so smarter now than to eat such decadent, bad-for-us food? And isn’t this 752-page paean to fat a dumb cookbook for anyone buy? To me, that style of writing is sneering. The author could have found people who loved to cook from Child’s cookbook, but instead focused on those who were shocked by the recipes.

  3. deercreek36

    We have the red and blue volumes…the bindings are broken…held together with rubber bands… the pages stick together from goo splashed while cooking.

    As with all other matters, the NYT doesn’t know jack…