17 August 2012

Top Five Friday: Books Julia Child Would Have Loved

She died with a knife in her hand in her kitchen, where she had cooked for fifty years,
and the death was solemnly listed in the newspaper as that of an artist.
~ Janet Flanner
ulia Child would have been 100 years old this week. 

What an amazing person!  She picked up cooking later in life and turned it into a passion and career.  She never let the number of candles on her éclair dictate what she could or could not do.

In honor of her Centennial Birthday, here are my top five books that combine wit, humour, life, and, of course, food.   

Babette’s Feast - Isak Dinesen
It has always been one of my dreams to re-create Babette’s famous dinner for 12.  I might have to find a substitute for the sea turtle ~ I think they’re on the endangered list now. 

This book embodies all that I believe about food and culture.  Most Americans eat like that narrow, puritanical community: without joy and without fellowship.  The only difference is the gruel they ate might actually have been nutritious, whereas there isn’t much in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is even food, let alone nutritious.

To leave this story off this list would be tantamount to heresy. 

Photo: Joop Hoek

Love in a Dish. . .And Other Culinary Delights – M.F.K. Fisher
Who says a mentor has to be alive and kicking?  No shelf of cooking essays is complete without something by M.F.K. Fisher.  She was a master essayist on everything gastronomical. . .and then some!  I soak up her witticisms and wisecracks like so much French bread in mushroom gravy.

The Bread of Three Rivers: The Story of a French Loaf – Sara Mansfield Taber
Honestly, I was a little floured with envy when I read Taber’s account of her quest to find the quintessial loaf of French bread.  Talk about the best job ever!  It is an intimate look at how important supporting the local economy is and just what goes into making a loaf of French bread.

Great, just talking about it makes me want to run to the kitchen and get my arms floured up.

Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes – Amanda Hesser
This was the first book I read that combined an an engaging story with usable recipes.  After devouring it, I was hooked on books that married superbly written true stories and mouth-watering recipes.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver
Anyone concerned about where their food comes from, what has been sprayed on it and whether their strawberry’s DNA has been crossed with a toad [okay, that’s a bit of exaggeration – but not much!] knows about this great book.  Kingsolver took her family on a eat fresh, eat local one year adventure that is still going on today. 

It is a must have on any kitchen shelf: your cooking is only as great as your ingredients.  I like mine to travel as little as possible.

Happy Birthday, Julia!   Thank you for showing us that any age is a great age to be as long as you approach with joy, passion, and with your heart and hands wide open to give and receive.   

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

And thanks for the coq au vin!
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