Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Virginia Woolf & Julia Child: one degree of separation

Woolf, by Roger Fry
"It is a French recipe of my grandmother's," said Mrs. Ramsay, speaking with a ring of great pleasure in her voice. Of course it was French. What passes for cookery in England is an abomination (they agreed). It is putting cabbages in water. It is roasting meat till it is like leather. It is cutting off the delicious skins of vegetables. 'In which,' said Mr Bankes, 'all the virtue of the vegetable is contained.' And the waste, said Mrs Ramsay. A whole French family could live on what an English cook throws away."
The recipe under discussion is the famous culinary centerpiece of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, a Provencal dish called boeuf en daube ("daube" refers to the earthenware pot in which the dish is traditionally cooked). In honor of Julia Child's 100th, here's an adaptation of her recipe, which sounds utterly delicious. Well, at least Mrs Ramsay's entourage thought so: "An exquisite scent of olives and oil and juice rose from the great brown dish as Marthe, with a little flourish, took the cover off." Yum!

9 comments:

  1. I agree with Mr Bankes about the skins of vegetables. With a few exceptions, I generally like the skins (when edible) nearly as much as the middle of most fruits and veggies.

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  2. Sometimes it's not necessary to pour ridiculous amounts of preparation into a meal to make a delicious dish. Just let the flavors speak for themselves sometimes. Scant seasoning and simple prep CAN go a long way.

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  3. All these Julia posts/comments are making me hungry!!

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  4. Caption for Woolf photo: "Ohh, I'm so glad to have a room of my own!"

    Also, Julia's recipes were definitely not simple, which maybe is another difference between English and French cooking.

    But there's no need to waste! Compost the skins!

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    1. Ha! Stick around for some upcoming captioning fun ... some modest prizes in the form of gratis items from daedalus may be in order!

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    2. Yee-hah! But then...I never win anything!

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  5. YUM!!! THAT'S A DELICIOUS RECIPE!!!! HAPPY 100TH JULIA CHILD!!!!

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  6. That is a delicious recipe. I shall always remember how Julia Child never let Jacques Pepin get it all his own way. When she was providing sound caution in the method of handling raw chicken, M. Pepin intoned, "I NEVER wash my chicken."
    Julia let it hang for a second, then retorted with the crispness of ice-cold Boston lettuce:"That's because you're French!"
    The viewer was left to ponder whether all that Bordeaux wasn't imbibed just to kill the germs in French cooking.
    Bon appetit, y'all!

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    1. What a meaty comment .... you certainly made my morning. A good metaphor is like a good meal (hey, that's a simile!)

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