Food Porn by
25
(26 Stories)

Prompted By Cooking

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

The careers of several visionary women influence the way I cook today: Alice Waters (of Chez Panisse fame), Martha Stewart, and most importantly, Julia Child.

Most of the recipes from these $50 doorstops I will never attempt, but drooling over the descriptions and pictures will do just fine.

Alice‘s passion is freshness and seasonality; Martha’s thing is entertaining and presentation; but Julia was a force of nature. Hers was one of (if not the) first cooking shows on TV, and she changed the relationship many of us had to food. Quirky, irreverent, and not afraid to screw-up on camera, she was grounded in technique but also championed flavor and fun.

I love cookbooks almost as much as I love cooking. I’ve been to the restaurants of many celebrity chefs and sampled their cuisine, but Julia and Martha never had a restaurant empire, they wrote books. So began a lifelong love affair.

When the second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in 1970, we all dutifully bought it and even read some of it. Unlike the blogger who recently spent a year making every single recipe in both volumes, I’m pretty sure I’ve never made anything out of either.

Instead, I was smitten with her next books, From Julia Child’s Kitchen, Julia Child and Company and Julia Child and More Company. Accessible and foolproof, many of the recipes are still in my rotation, like her leek and potato soup and the corn timbale all my friends must be sick of. Which is not to say they are all quick or easy, but the time and effort is well rewarded.

Martha wrote the first coffee table cookbooks, more photo-spread than groundbreaking cuisine; she catalogued her gorgeous catered parties and her impossibly perfect kitchen garden. Talk about aspirational!

I progressed through the Sunset Magazine library, three Silver Palate books, the Chez Panisse oeuvre, then The Greens Cookbook and Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The farm to table movement took off in California and Hawaii, and chefs became celebrities and every one of them began writing cookbooks.

Part storytelling and all marketing, these are serious food porn. Most of the recipes from these $50 doorstops I will never attempt, but drooling over the descriptions and pictures will do just fine. I’m still inspired and get useful ideas from them. Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame) is an industry unto himself and his acolytes have gone on to open dozens of restaurants and write yet more cookbooks.

Every recipe ever written is now available online but I can never have enough cookbooks, Santa. Just sayin’.

Profile photo of Patricia Patricia
Patricia is a co-founder of Retrospect, and generally can be found two standard deviations from the mean on most issues. Lover of chef's tasting menus, cute shoes, and the music of Brahms.


Characterizations: right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Susan says:

    *Another* corn Timbale??
    Oh yes please!

  2. Suzy says:

    I can’t say I relate to this at all, but it was fascinating reading. Kind of like visiting a foreign country.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    I’m with Suzy on this, but surely admire your zest and love what you feed me when I visit! I have even learned a recipe or two from you! Thanks for that.

Leave a Reply