Monday, July 6, 2009

Julie & Julia and me

Click Here for a
Web Companion to Julia Child's
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

When I was reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell almost two years ago, I had no idea it would become a movie or that I would become a food blogger! So when I was asked to be a Featured Blog on the Julie & Julia official website for the movie, I was thrilled and wondered what I could do to contribute to the community.

After much thought, the idea came to mind to create a modern web-based companion that would work alongside Julia Child's classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. I've assembled hundreds of inspiring pictures and engaging articles written by the world-wide food blogging community about the recipes from this book. I hope that this project will offer something new to Julia Child fans as it grows through community involvement.

This project is the culmination of many hours of effort (including some labor from key family members!). However, I must admit when I first got this idea I didn't realize just how much work it would be. It's one of those ideas that seems like it should be simpler to do than it really is.

Part of the reason for the complexity is that I wanted to limit the listings to the food blogging community, which meant no professional newspapers, magazine websites or recipe-only sites. Plus, as much as possible, each entry needed to follow the spirit of the original Julia recipe and have a photograph (preferably a really great photograph) which meant nearly all restaurant reviews were out. Next, I decided to standardize on English language posts, which narrows the results about French cuisine even further. Searching for the recipes themselves was like finding a needle in a haystack. Do you search for the French name or the English name? Sometimes Google blog or Google image search would turn up a winner while other times would find it. Sometimes the first results page would have something good and other times the perfect post would be found on page 14. Often times nothing perfect would turn up and then I was left with the question of how close is close enough, and I did my best to find a similar recipe that conveyed the spirit of Julia's recipe. In all, this was a great, yet fun, challenge.

The Making of … Whisk: a food blog
Reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously was a crucial step in my path to becoming a food blogger. While enjoying Julie's book, I was inspired to pull out my 1961 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I and pore through the recipes, instructions and techniques. At the same time, I was surfing through many food blogs, reading The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn, and drooling over food photography at Tastespotting. I knew I had found a community that I wanted to be a part of.

"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
— Julia Child

For many weeks before writing my first post, I struggled with a focus for my blog. I had always wanted to attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, and had watched a demo, toured the school and even dropped in one afternoon almost 20 years ago to look around the facilities in Ottawa. Time never seemed right to attend.

By chance and through the luck of Google, I found the curriculum online for this renowned culinary school, and dusted off my copy of Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. Now was my chance to try working through this cookbook using the curriculum as a guide and write about it and photograph my results.

Little did I know the friends I'd meet along the way who cook in their kitchens around the world. Through blogging, email, Twitter, Whisk Wednesdays and Tuesdays with Dorie, we would connect, share and learn from each other. It's been an amazing journey, and I suspect many food bloggers have a similar story. It's been a wonderful community to be a part of.

How You Can Help
I've collected links for almost all the master recipes, which covers roughly half the content of the book. The book lists many variations that provide the other half, and this is where I need your help!

If you have blogged about one of the recipes that's not listed in this post or is on this list of remaining recipes, please leave a comment or email me at whiskfoodblog[at]gmail{dot}com and include the following information:

- your name
- your blog’s name and URL
- the URL of the post containing the photograph
- if you're emailing me, please send a photo in an attachment in a jpeg format that is at least 250 px tall and wide

Who knows, depending on the interest, I may start a web companion for Volume 2! But before I start that project, I'm going to enjoy some extra buttery popcorn with Julie & Julia on August 7 (and maybe I'll sneak in some gin as well).
"I think this book will become a classic."
— Judith B. Jones, 1960
from a report written to the Knopfs explaining
why this book would be a credit to their imprint
Julie & Julia: The Movie
Julie/Julia Project (the blog that started it all)
Julie Powell's Blog
Mighty Appetite: First Taste of Julie and Julia
Ruhlman: Julie & Julia
Food & Wine: The Julie & Julia Movie
The Making of … Mastering the Art of French Cooking
• New York Times' article by Amanda Hesser "A Race to Master the Art of French Cooking"

Click Here for a
Web Companion to Julia Child's
Mastering the Art of French Cooking


angela@spinachtiger said...

I would love to make something off of this list, once you've gotten your feedback.

I salute your incredible work on this.

Unknown said...

This is truly unbelievable! Thanks so much for all of your time and effort to put together this web companion! I read Julie & Julia quite a few years ago too but I've never owned a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I think I'm going to change that soon :)

Waverly said...

What an interesting and wonderful project. I began blogging August 2009. My very first post was about a "Happy Birthday Julia Child" dinner party that I gave. Everything I cooked was from one of her cookbooks. For dessert, I made the Vanilla Souffle from MAFC.

To read the vanilla souffle recipe, please go to:

To read more of my blog, PEACE AND LOVE IN THE KITCHEN, please go to:

Thank you!