Bon Apétit...

I have a confession to make: I do not own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. To the best of my knowledge, I have never prepared one of Julia Child's recipes. I only have very vague memories of watching reruns of The French Chef at some point in my childhood. All of these facts are further proof that I am still somewhat of a poseur when it comes to the world of food enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the concepts that Julia re-introduced to American cooking -- the satisfaction that can be found in cooking from scratch, an eschewing of convenience food products, and an adventurous culinary spirit -- have definitely informed my kitchen sensibilities.

Therefore, the new film Julie and Julia was an absolute must-see for me, and I virtually rushed to the theater to see it on Sunday. I can unequivocally say that I really enjoyed it. Of course, there was the obligatory food porn (never have I left a movie feeling quite so hungry), but the movie transcended the arena of culinary appreciation, and captured my imagination on several fronts.

First, being deep in a quarter-life crisis of my own, I could easily relate to the dilemma of the main characters. When life doesn't live up to your expectations, how do you figure out what to do with yourself? How do you build a life based on your passions? Those are questions that I struggle with every day, and it was very inspiring to experience the stories of two women who not only figured it out, but were incredibly successful in doing so. That their passion was food was merely icing on the cake.

Second, I could empathize with Julie's struggles in launching her blog. There is definitely a certain neurosis that comes with putting your thoughts and feelings out into the ether for the consumption of others. I too have felt Julie's pain of wondering if she had any readers, or if her efforts were for naught. Particularly poignant for me was the moment when she finally received her first comment, only to find that it was her mother, asking if she was the only person reading the blog, and why she was wasting her time on it. I've certainly been there myself.

Finally, the nature of Julie's project was inherently inspiring. Julie set out to make all 524 recipes contained in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. She didn't discriminate based on her existing food prejudices (of which she had many; indeed, prior to starting, she had never consumed an egg that wasn't baked into something). Instead, she made everything, including the meat-flavored jellos known as aspics, and completed kitchen tasks that had previously intimidated her, such as cooking live lobsters or butchering whole birds.

As for me, I decided to head home that very night, and adopt Julie's new "no fear" mantra in my own kitchen, and prepare a dish that I had been eying for some time: scallion pancakes. I had a package of green onions languishing in the fridge, but for some reason, the complicated process of making and rolling out the dough, coupled with my general failure to master the art of griddled food, had deterred me from attempting the Chinese restaurant classic in my own kitchen. But, full of inspiration, I was determined to overcome my trepidations.
In the process of rolling out pancakes.
As with most of the things I angst about, it turned out that I need not have worried. The process of adding the boiling water to the flour to create the dough was not nearly as scary or dangerous as I had anticipated. There was actually something therapeutic about sprinkling the scallions onto the thinly rolled dough, rolling them up into a snake, turning the snake into a coil, and then re-flattening the coil into a pancake to create dozens of flaky layers. Julia Child would have been proud -- I found joy in what others would see as a tedious task, I created something delicious, and I got my kitchen mojo back after several weeks of feeling little motivation to cook. All in all, definitely money well spent at the movie theater!

I even managed to successfully griddle the pancakes to a state of golden-brown deliciousness!


  1. I'm very glad you didn't offer any scallion pancakes to me!!

    Why are you in a quarter-life crisis? You have a job, you have a nice apartment, you have a loving family, you have all kinds of material possessions...count your blessings, girl!!

  2. I totally understand your current mindset, it is hard to know who you are when the means of defining yourself are not ideal (job/relationships/etc.). I think that one's self worth, however, needs to come from within, not be defined by the external. I'm still figuring that one out.

    I'm glad you liked the movie, I'm not sure I'd see it, but it seems up your alley. I baked oatmeal cookies with butterscotch & chocolate chips the other day, and used your technique of freezing the dough so they can be enjoyed fresh. I finished the batch and sent some fresh baked ones to my dad in the hospital today. Can I remind you that you sparked my love affair with parchment paper.

  3. mmmmm, sign me up. those look yummy!