Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I have never owned a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking but after just finishing My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme I think I may have to get a copy - at least Volume 1 - for the design and reading if not for cooking but I might actually give that a try, too.
This is a great read although I was never comfortable with the "voice". Alex Prud'homme is Paul Child's (Julia's husband) grand nephew. He had access to the many saved letters written by Paul and Julia to Paul's twin brother. So Alex wrote this book based on the letters plus interviews with Julia when she was in her nineties BUT the book is written in the first person as if Julia is telling the story. True, Julia read portions as they were written and offered corrections and additions but it's not quite the same as her having written the book, at least in my mind. Is it autobiography? I don't know.
Nevertheless, I am delighted to have learned the facts of her life and how her books and TV shows came to be. Did those following the book and shows at the time realize how involved Paul was as her collaborator and partner? He encouraged her from the beginning, when they first arrived in France, to learn the language and take cooking classes at the Cordon Blue. He helped her with kitchen design, photographs, illustrations. He coached her about her presentation style when she first started giving cooking lessons. Some spouses are like that. It was for his career that they went to France...and for hers when they came back thirty years later. We also get some insight into Julia's relationships, professional and personal, with her two "cookery-bookery" co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholde.
And, guess what? There is not one recipe in this book. Another reason to get a copy of MTAFC. If this book is correct, MTAFC was another French revolution.