Book Review: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is an American classic, a cookbook normally handed down through generations.

Written by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle, it revolutionized post-war American kitchens by breaking middle-class America’s infatuation with processed food and replacing it with another infatuation; namely French cuisine.

I got the book after our book club watched the film “Julie and Julia” over the Christmas holidays. I decided to read it like a novel. I am still at “Sauces.”

What they say about this book is really true: the recipes are all road-tested and fool-proof. Have you ever tried a recipe, and then ended up adding this and doing that differently because it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? It has never happened with this book. Not yet, anyway.

The descriptions and instructions sometimes bug me, because it is just so anal, but I get it, Julia and Simone. I understand why you are being so anal. It’s not to annoy me, it’s basically to ensure that I get the best–dare I say–the only? result I am supposed to get.

I have tried to see whether I can find shortcuts to some of the procedures. I still haven’t thought of one that would give me a better result. If I do find that rare loophole, I’ll let you know. Anyway, this book is a keeper and worth the money you’ve paid for it. Get the hardbound version, you won’t regret it.

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