Saturday, September 26, 2009

“Julia Child’s cuisine is academic and bourgeois”: French food experts are divided about Ms. Child and her cooking

"Julia Child may have been America’s best-known 'French chef'," writes Maïa de la Baume, "but here in Paris few know her fabled cookbooks, let alone her name."
…French food experts are divided about Ms. Child and her cooking. Some say she caricatured French cuisine in her book and cooking show, making it seem too heavy and formal. Others believe she demystified it and see her as a role model in France, where cooking shows are rare and cuisine is not necessarily viewed as something anyone can interpret.

“Julia Child’s cuisine is academic and bourgeois,” said Julie Andrieu, a television personality and cookbook author. “It shows that in America, the cliché of beef, baguette and canard farci remains.”

…Ms. Andrieu, the cookbook author, said that despite Ms. Child’s clichéd recipes, her style could be defined as a “combination of scientific and empirical virtues” that helped explain why Americans wrote better cookbooks than the French.

“The French think that they are natural-born cooks; they prepare a dish off the top of their heads, without testing it,” she said. “In France, we rush over explanations.”

After watching “Julie & Julia,” Ms. Andrieu said, she felt compelled to go home and make boeuf bourguignon according to Ms. Child’s recipe. “I cut the flour in half, and it turned out to be the best I had ever made,” she said.

Mr. Epié even thinks that Ms. Child’s story should encourage the French to discuss their cuisine in a more democratic way.

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