Sunday, August 29, 2004

Larousse Gastronomique

I noticed that this book is on sale on Ebay for around $10. It is a big book. I am tempted to get another copy. I bought my first copy in the early 70's when I was newly married and living in an apartment in Chicago. I very much wanted to be a good cook, and I had no idea where to start. I started with this book. It is full of deglace sauces, stocks, long explanations of techniques, tools, etc., and I'm sure that it is all very classic and very old fashioned. But, I learned a lot! I made Pot Au Feu as my first dinner. Then Beef Bourgogne. The dinners I made would take a whole day to prepare, and that was after all the shopping around to find the ingredients. I did not take any shortcuts, and gradually, I learned how to cook. Watching Julia Child, and reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking helped too. What a fine book for a beginner. We used to invite the same friends over for dinner, over and over, so I could try the recipes out. It was costly to buy the right ingredients. I had the right cookware. It was fun. Some of the pans I bought then, I still use, over 30 years later.

My worst cooking mistake was also made then. After a day of stock making, with chicken, beef, red wine, all kinds of fresh, lovely ingredients, hours of stirring and fussing....I put the colander into the sink and strained this lovely stock right down the drain. I'm sure I almost cried as I stood there holding the colander full of the cooked bones and boiled carrots. My mom loves to laugh at this, our favorite cooking mistake. That one mistake has sure paid for itself in laughter over the years!