Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I
Publication Date: October 16, 2001
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This is the classic cookbook, in its entirety—all 524 recipes.
“Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for more than forty years, has been teaching Americans how.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This beautiful book, with more than 100 instructive illustrations, is revolutionary in its approach because:
• it leads the cook infallibly from the buying and handling of raw ingredients, through each essential step of a recipe, to the final creation of a delicate confection;
• it breaks down the classic cuisine into a logical sequence of themes and variations rather than presenting an endless and diffuse catalogue of recipes; the focus is on key recipes that form the backbone of French cookery and lend themselves to an infinite number of elaborations—bound to increase anyone’s culinary repertoire;
• it adapts classical techniques, wherever possible, to modern American conveniences;
• it shows Americans how to buy products, from any supermarket in the United States, that reproduce the exact taste and texture of the French ingredients, for example, equivalent meat cuts, the right beans for a cassoulet, or the appropriate fish and seafood for a bouillabaisse;
• it offers suggestions for just the right accompaniment to each dish, including proper wines.
Since there has never been a book as instructive and as workable as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the techniques learned here can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely more usable. In compiling the secrets of famous cordons bleus, the authors have produced a magnificent volume that is sure to find the place of honor in every kitchen in America.
Julia Child, a native of California and a Smith College graduate; Simone Beck, French-born and -educated; and Louisette Bertholle, half French and half American, educated in both countries, represented an even blending of the two backgrounds and were singularly equipped to write about French cooking for Americans. Mrs. Child studied at Paris’s famous Cordon Bleu, and all three authors worked under various distinguished French chefs. In 1951 they started their own cooking school in Paris, L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, at the same time that this book was taking shape. After that, Madame Beck published two cookbooks, Simca’s Cuisine in 1972 and New Menus from Simca’s Cuisine in 1979, and she continued to teach cooking in France. Madame Bertholle also had several cookery books published. Shortly after the appearance of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, Julia Child began appearing in the public television series The French Chef, which aired for many years all over the United States, and in 1978 the program Julia Child & Company was launched, followed the next year by Julia Child & More Company. In 1968 recipes from her early programs, many of which were drawn from this book, were published in The French Chef Cookbook.
In 1975 From Julia Child’s Kitchen was published, followed in 1978 and 1979 by Julia Child & Company and Julia Child & More Company, based on those programs. Also based on television series were the two books—Cooking with Master Chefs and In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs—she wrote in the mid-1990s, as well as Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, with Jacques Pépin, in 1999. The Way to Cook, her magnum opus, was published in 1989, and in 2000 she gave us Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, a distillation of her years of cooking experience.
Nora Ephron's movie, Julie and Julia, has sent Julia Child's classic book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to the top of the bestseller list. Ephron talks about Child's legacy, and shares favorite recipes from the book. More at NPR.org
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"Has it really been 40 years since Julia Child rescued Americans from dreary casseroles? This reissue, clad in a handsome red jacket, is what a cookbook should be: packed with sumptuous recipes, detailed instructions, and precise line drawings. Some of the instructions look daunting, but as Child herself says in the introduction, 'If you can read, you can cook.'"
- Entertainment Weekly