"This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat."
That's the opening sentence of my mother's 1964 edition of the classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and the ever-formidable and fabulous Julia Child. As a small girl I found it the most intimidating cookbook on my mother's shelf, heavy, and full of long and involved recipes with French titles in italics beneath the English. There are those marvelous explanations that have become a Child trademark: the section on Goose (or Oie) begins, "Goose, like duck, can only be considered gastronomically interesting when it is under 6 months old...". Good grief! Does anyone know such things any longer, unless trained as a professional chef? And who in America eats a goose, outside of someone celebrating a Dickensian Christmas?
My mother let me take the book a few years ago as she never does such elaborate cooking anymore (and is, like many Americans, rather more concerned with waistlines these days than as a young wife with quite a tiny one in 1964) and I sometimes take it up to bed to read before falling asleep. It is a book as evocative and dreamy as any of the popular memoirs that sell well nowadays of proper Brits and their transplanted lives in Provence or Tuscany.
I pulled it down from the shelf this evening as I had bought some freshly made organic sausage at Dublin's weekly farmer's market -- along with an abundance of wonderful, organically grown fruits and vegetables from nearby (the Wicklow mountains) and far away (France and Italy). Why not do les saucisses with some lentils and fresh green beans in lemon thyme, I thought, and wondered if Julia might have a suggestion. Well, the closest thing was a cassoulet, the classic French sausage, meats and bean dish; and the section for making it runs to four pages and has a prefatory "note on the order of battle" (again, classic Julia!) for attacking the ingredients... including a section with recipe for making one's own sausage (who owns a meat grinder any more?!). I must admit the sausage sounds pretty darn good -- it includes a half cup of armagnac or cognac and the optional choice of throwing in a chopped truffle.
My meal will be somewhat simpler that that, I'm afraid -- but, as I type, smells quite heavenly downstairs. Bon appetit!
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Quotes for people who are perpetually late (er... me):
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10:42:30 AM # your two cents 
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