Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 31 Aug 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?