If it seems cliché for me, a girl learning to cook, to want (and receive) a Julia Child book for Christmas, well, maybe it is. But, you know, not all clichés are bad.
That one about how a penny saved is a penny earned? I kind of like that one. And you’re only young once? That’s true, too.
Maybe you’re thinking up some new year’s resolutions: Get in shape? Save more money? I say, What the heck. Let’s all embrace clichés.
Julia Child is kind of The Great Famous Chef, the one who brought French cooking to American domestics, who seemed so excited, so full of gusto, she made you believe you could cook what she could, even from your little kitchen. (And that voice! Was there anything so endearing?)
So I wanted Mastering the Art of French Cooking, like millions of home cooks have before and millions will after.
To begin, I opened to the first chapter and set my hopes on potage parmentier or, leek and onion soup. Julia—we’re on a first-name basis now—says yellow onions are fine, and that’s what I had, so that’s what I used.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking available on Amazon
This is French food at its most economical. I would suspect you have all the ingredients already, and surely you could make some time to cook them.
The result will be worth it: a creamy, comforting, hot-on-your-throat soup with small flecks of soft potatoes throughout. Julia says adding extra vegetables is fine, so I threw in half a bag of baby carrots, chopped into small bits.
This gave my soup a pretty, orange color reminiscent of pumpkin soup, and, topped with a little parsley to serve, this stuff looks as nice as it tastes. I ate two bowls immediately, and the next day, my family finished the rest.
In fact, though freshman year French class may be worlds away, Monsieur Shelbourne would be proud, bless his heart, that something’s finally clicked.
With Julia, suddenly everything French is fascinating. Like this little girl with big brown eyes who tells a story about hippopotame and fantomes. Like the movie, Ratatouille.
Like French macarons and madeleines and French restaurants and the fact that my friend Becky is going to Paris in February.
Turns out, I didn’t need to make the life-size flag poster with black and white photos of Montmartre. If we’d only known then what I know now: just give this girl a cookbook.
New Year’s Resolutions: I didn’t break any from last year, but that’s only because I didn’t make any. Better odds, that way, you know? This year, I’m resolved to work my way through Julia’s cookbook, as well as exercise regularly and, well, the two should go together.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.