July 18, 2018
Trying To Be Like Julia!
This week I was craving some Onion Soup-- French style. This is not unusual. I love the traditional meal, even if it is a remnant of poorer days in French history. But I love it. Often I will try the French Onion Soups that are offered in Utah and none of them are good. They either taste like they came out of a can or they take liberties with it and add in non-traditional items that, in my opinion, ruin it.
So I decided to make my own. If you did not know this already, Lady Hiva is a collector of cook books. We have cook books--shelves and shelves of them--from all over the world. I figured if I was going to make something French I was going to the most celebrated of all cook books-- Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was interesting to read some of the history behind Julia and her two companion authors' reasoning for writing the two volumes of the cook books. They wanted to bring French cuisine into the everyday household in America. I liked how they tried to use ingredients that would be easily found in the United States.
This experience did teach me that Julia and her partners assumed that all people reading the book would have some level of comfort and experience cooking. Unlike America's Test Kitchen recipes, there is not precise directions that a new cook could follow. There were instructions like, season to taste etc. That did not bother me as I like to take a recipe and then add my own flare to it. However, for someone that is not comfortable with different spices this could be daunting. Maybe as three trained chefs at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, they did not realize that not everyone has the same basic cooking skills!
It was fun though. I cried through slicing all the onions--thankful that last time we were in France I bought a slicer to increase the pace and uniformity of the cuts. I even made garlic encrusted croutons from a baguette. I was able to do some research and found I could substitute pear juice for the cognac that the recipe called for. We even purchased some Gruyere cheese for the sharp flavor. That was one thing that Julia did not call for, she substituted for Parmesan. I am assuming at some point Parmesan was easier to find than Gruyere. Thanks to globalization it is easier to find European products now. (in fact it was harder to find the pear juice than the European ingredients!)
The result of this effort? Was DELICIOUSNESS!! I was so happy with it. Now I know when I am craving Onion Soup again, I can make the traditional version right at home---along with Julia's help of course.