We moved to a French island in the South Pacific in the mid-60's. Anxious to impress my father's French business partners, including a prominent local doctor, my mother was determined to prepare a real French meal. So, she took out her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, went around to the various shops buying ingredients (converting from American measurments to metric, and American cuts of meat to French cuts!) and prepared an elaborate meal for her French guests, all to great acclaim. However, the praise was tempered by the good doctor's aside to my mother as he was leaving: "I just love your American cooking!
We named them Huey and Dewey - our ducks ala Julia that my sister and I would prepare for her boyfriend at the time. Julia had specified that since breast and dark meat cooked at different times and temperatures that the legs would be cooked separately from the breast. It involved butchering. It involved Dijon mustard and fresh breadcrumbs. It involved about four hours of work. We loved every minute, sisters bonded together. When the boyfriend sat down to dinner, he looked at the finished product with curiousity. What is it, he asked? The memory of the preparation, the attention to detail and the result (which was delicious), still sits clearly in my memory 20 years later.
I have loved cooking since I was a kid, when my father ran a small catering business from our home. He did big barbeques, oyster stew dinners, strawberry festivals, and other uniquely-American type events. I usually was restricted to potato peeling and onion slicing, but I loved it. I especially loved being able to work with Dad. When I grew up, I discovered that cooking could be a really creative, almost therapeutic endeavor, and I discovered Julia Child on PBS. She is so real and so fun to watch. I received a copy of "The Way To Cook," and - to this day - that dog-eared, sauce-stained volume is the first one to which I turn for inspiration. Julia is a real treasure, and I want to thank her for teaching me that you can enjoy a good meal and a glass of wine, and feel no guilt.
I love cooking because we can make new inventions. My mom & I LOVE it !!!!!
Every Christmas since graduate school, two of my dearest friends and I have Christmas dinner together. We take turns hosting and cooking, and each try to outdo one another with our culinary skills. One year Beverly made a full pioneer menu, tons of research!
In December of 1992 it was my turn. I did my usual research and decided that I wanted to make a Christmas goose. I consulted Mastering the Art of French Cooking and carefully read through Julia's preparation of a goose. I also found a lovely series of recipes in the December 1991 Bon Appetit magazine. The article said this was the traditional French Christmas menu so I was thrilled -- Roast Goose with Chestnuts, Prunes, and Armagnac, Haricots Verts, and Potato and Wild Mushroom Gratin. Using both the Mastering and the Bon Appetit recipes as my guides, I called the butcher to order the goose, made my list, selected my table settings, and did my shopping.
The big day arrived. I had planned a full Saturday of cooking to make the perfect French Christmas dinner. I started the sauce simmering and began to prepare the goose for roasting. I stood in front of the sink holding my goose with its long neck attached and first decided I should cut that off. I pulled the fat out, rubbed it with orange and filled the cavity with wonderful things. The butcher recommended that I put the goose in the roasting pan breast side down for the first part of the roasting, then flip it over. Oh dear, I said to myself, which is breast side? I stared at the goose for a while trying to figure it out, but both sides looked the same to me. I guess I didn't have a very well endowed goose. Finally I concluded the only way to figure it out was to stretch out the goose's wings and try to imagine it flying, then the breast side should be facing the ground, right? Well, that's what I did, although I felt a little silly. After I averted that crisis the rest of the meal went smoothly and I was very pleased to serve my friends their first Christmas goose. (By the way, the recipes were terrific. The potatoes were amazing!!)