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More Italian than the Italians?

by VM Brasseur on August 31st, 2006

A few years ago a woman named Julie Powell decided to work her way through the entirety of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She blogged. She novelized. She did the press junkets. She made (is making) a lot of money and hopefully learned a lot about cooking beforehand.

The idea of working through every recipe in a single cookbook is appealing to me. Of all the books to pick I think that Julie selected one of the best if her purpose was to learn to cook. I admin that I (scandalously enough) don’t own Child’s tomes (yet), but I know enough about them to understand that they’re well written and perfect educational texts. Plus French food is just yummy.

Yet because it’s gotten such monumental coverage I can’t help but feel that duplicating Julie’s accomplishment would be cheap and unoriginal mimickery. Despite the fact that I’d learn a lot and would be doing it for my own personal enrichment.

So what if I didn’t use Child’s books? Would that allow me to get over my illogical little hangup? I dunno. That might help. But which book?

Well, for Christmas Mom and Dad gave me The Silver Spoon, a.k.a. the bible of Italian cooking. I like Italian cooking. Well, I like Italian food anyway, and Italian cooking is just one step removed from the eating of the food produced so naturally I must like Italian cooking. Parts of Italy are almost France. So it’s almost the same, right?

Not quite. The Silver Spoon contains almost four times as many recipes as Mastering the Art of French Cooking. About two thousand in total. That’s an incredibly daunting number and it would take me years to get through all of them.

What if I imposed some sort of limitation or criteria? Such as, “if I have to buy some piece of equipment in order to make this, it’s out of the running?” Or, “if I can’t find the ingredients easily then it’s outta there?” Sure, that could work I guess. Except for the fact that very very few of the recipes seem to require exotic gear and I live in the Bay Area and can in short order lay my hands on almost any ingredient I require.

So what’s a gal to do? I need to mull this one over a bit more. Maybe it’s just a matter of realigning my expectations and goals such that not completing every recipe in this (or any) book doesn’t feel like a failure.

Anyone out there have any experience with trying something like this?

From → Food

  1. I considered doing this with The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson as the book didn’t have a gazillion recipes, but instead offered intensively researched versions of some classic American dishes. I also considered trying to get through all the Good Eats recipes. Then I realized that the last thing I needed was to stress myself out with a timetable over something I do as a hobby, so now I just keep track of which recipes I’ve made whenever I get to them, and if I’m looking for something new to make I go to those two sources first.

  2. Father B permalink

    How about just picking one or two of the best sounding recipes from each chapter or catagory for a starter.

  3. I’m starting to think that The Silver Spoon is the wrong choice. Even just a single chapter would be daunting and I wouldn’t know how to pick just a few of the best ones. That would allow me to avoid making some things I normally wouldn’t (tripe or the like) and that wouldn’t be very mind-expanding.

    Megan’s point about not wanting to stress out over a timetable is also something that’s crossed my mind. That’s the point at which it stops being something neat that I’m doing and becomes actual work.

    Perhaps I’ll just file the idea for future reference and consider some variation of it for later.

  4. suomynona permalink

    You’d need to get a person to do the dish washing and people to come over and eat.

    Maybe the two positions could be combined?

  5. Got anyone in mind, Suomynona? Perhaps in the January timeframe?

  6. suomynona permalink

    I’m good at dishes.

    Not so good at driving 4 hours for a meal.

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