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Bon Appetit: Julia's Cuisine

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Here's your topic for discussing Julia's cuisine,. cooking, recipes and career.

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On 4/1/2022 at 12:37 PM, chediavolo said:

But of course, Julia’s way of cooking was very unhealthy for the most part.

What was unhealthy about it??? Obviously cakes and desserts aren't the healthiest of foods but her main meals, the fish and the omelette, etc?

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3 hours ago, AllyB said:

What was unhealthy about it??? Obviously cakes and desserts aren't the healthiest of foods but her main meals, the fish and the omelette, etc?

Lots and lots of butter.

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3 hours ago, Cinnabon said:

Lots and lots of butter.

Butter is actually really good for you. Naturally occurring fats in dairy aren't bad for you and proper butter is nutritionally quite dense. It's far, far better to cook with than any kind of seed oil. Julia Child promoted fairly healthy eating overall with a great emphasis on a variety of vegetables and fresh foods. There were a lot of desserts, which obviously included refined sugar, but even at that, they weren't overly processed foods and she was all about moderation. 

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8 hours ago, AllyB said:

What was unhealthy about it??? Obviously cakes and desserts aren't the healthiest of foods but her main meals, the fish and the omelette, etc?

Lots of butter, she probably cooked with lard and other unhealthy fats. Meats and even chicken were fattier back then. Lots of salts and other unhealthy things. Were they delicious? I’m sure they were forget about watching your weight or your heart.

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47 minutes ago, AllyB said:

Butter is actually really good for you. Naturally occurring fats in dairy aren't bad for you and proper butter is nutritionally quite dense. It's far, far better to cook with than any kind of seed oil. Julia Child promoted fairly healthy eating overall with a great emphasis on a variety of vegetables and fresh foods. There were a lot of desserts, which obviously included refined sugar, but even at that, they weren't overly processed foods and she was all about moderation. 

I’ve never heard that naturally occurring fats and dairy are not bad for you where did you read this.? Butter is high in saturated fat. In moderation it is fine but definitely not for every day cooking. olive oil is most likely the best. For baking yes , butter. And I’m sure she use the full amount of sugar and all her baking when if you are a baker yourself you know that things taste much better if you cut the sugar in half or less we are obsessed with sugar.  I for one can barely eat any items from a bakery they just taste like pure sugar to me which is why I make my own. 

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It's interesting that both Julia and her husband lived into their 90s despite eating such a rich diet and smoking. Some possible explanations are that they ate smaller portions (even though the portions on this show don't look that small), were physically active, had a low-stress life, etc. It's also possible that they usually ate much healthier meals and Julia only cooked the recipes from her books/shows on special occasions. 

Current research does show overwhelmingly that animal fats and processed foods such as white flour and sugar are detrimental to health, and I personally choose to eat a whole-food plant-based diet for that reason, but I still revere Julia Child for having been such a trailblazer and for her joyful and guilt-free approach to food.

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6 hours ago, KarenX said:

That said, I find great joy in good food and appreciate Julia’s efforts to elevate something ordinary into a ritual. I don’t really think she was presenting her food for daily consumption. She was a visionary. She was demonstrating what was possible in ordinary kitchens. And I have some 1960s cookbooks and the recipes are generally horrific and unappetizing and I am grateful for our improved cuisine. I’m no chef and my mother was a perfectly fine cook but we (my current family) eat much more interesting dinners now than I ate with my childhood family, even in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hah, yes, my mother collected cookbooks back then and some she got free with either products or magazine subscriptions had those horrific creations in them.  I kept some of them for a hoot.  Jello molds were big back then and casseroles with every horrible food combination you can imagine in them.  Lots of stuff made with canned and frozen foods, and back then neither was anywhere near the quality we have now.  A lot of these things were aimed at housewives and did so in the smarmiest, most male chauvinist way, showing women in aprons serving men with crowns on their heads as "king" of their "castles".  Vomit.

By comparison, Julia Child was coming from another universe.  She was a completely new entity.  She treated her audience with respect and like a teacher sharing a useful skill she learned from elite male French chefs.  It was elevating, not demeaning.  So I really don't think it would have been lost on Betty Friedan that Julia, a fellow Smith grad., was on a much higher level in just about every way and was trying to bring home cooks to new levels of achievement and satisfaction.  This was cooking for the sheer satisfaction of doing it, not cooking as part of a woman's servitude to her husband or family.  I feel like this show is making Betty into a two dimensional character.  My mother read Betty's book at the time and was very affected by it but at no time did she equate what Julia was doing with holding her back or keeping her in the kitchen and believe me, if there was even a WHIFF of that coming from Julia, she would have seen it.  And I seriously doubt Betty herself would have seen that either.

Edited by Yeah No
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10 hours ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:

 

I also wonder how people were able to cook these meals.  Did they take copious notes during these half-hour shows?  That would have spoiled the fun of watching.  Or did they watch in the evening and then take notes during the daytime rerun?  Were the recipes published in the local paper?

 

They would have bought the book which is why book sales were increasing in those cities aired the show.

There is a real advantage in watching someone perform something and seeing what it should look like even if one still is following a written recipe. 

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5 hours ago, amarante said:

They would have bought the book which is why book sales were increasing in those cities aired the show.

I understand the  Mastering the Art of French Cooking had a sales surge while The French Chef was airing, but was Julia actually cooking the versions of those recipes as printed?  I thought that the printed recipes were notoriously detailed and complex, and that the recipes prepared for the television show were far more accessible. 

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On 4/11/2022 at 4:25 PM, chocolatine said:

It's interesting that both Julia and her husband lived into their 90s despite eating such a rich diet and smoking.

They never show Julia smoking (in real life, she supposedly quit in 1968 after a mastectomy) but she surely inhaled plenty of secondhand smoke.  I wonder how all the smoking affected people's taste buds.  Did food have to be richer or more complex to compensate?

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32 minutes ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:

I understand the  Mastering the Art of French Cooking had a sales surge while The French Chef was airing, but was Julia actually cooking the versions of those recipes as printed?  I thought that the printed recipes were notoriously detailed and complex, and that the recipes prepared for the television show were far more accessible. 

I didn't get the sense that she dumbed down the recipes but only that she could only fit certain stuff into the half hour.

She pretty much seem to have invented the cooking show in which the food is prepared at different stages since you can't actually cook anything within 30 minutes. Even Rachael Ray's recipes are essentially unable to be done in 30 minutes although that is her shtick.

 

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8 hours ago, ItCouldBeWorse said:
14 hours ago, amarante said:

They would have bought the book which is why book sales were increasing in those cities aired the show.

That seems right.  But I also think that, then as now, people watched cooking shows for the pleasure of watching them and not always because they are going to go cook what they see being cooked.  I think tv was slow to learn that, but it did, which is why the food television is less grounded in shows that teach recipes than it once was.

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On 5/17/2022 at 2:26 PM, ItCouldBeWorse said:

I understand the  Mastering the Art of French Cooking had a sales surge while The French Chef was airing, but was Julia actually cooking the versions of those recipes as printed?  I thought that the printed recipes were notoriously detailed and complex, and that the recipes prepared for the television show were far more accessible. 

Well she would ultimately make a career out of making a series of shows and then a cookbook that would contain all of the recipes that had been on that season... this becomes a public television staple.  Less so much on the food network although they do tons of cookbooks too but if you watch a cooking show on public television now, almost all of them at the end will have a how to buy the cookbook at the end.   

But these first episodes she was doin mostly the recipes from mastering the art and the cheats she used were just dumbing down (a tiny bit) ingredient lists so people could source the ingredients and letting the audience in on what steps could be prepared the day before, etc.   My brother got married in a small town in Tennessee in 2000 and my mom prepared all the food.   It took 3 stores to find fresh herbs and she never found smoked salmon and made an emergency call to a friend who was driving up that day to buy loads of smoked salmon, to not even worry about the price, that my she would pay the friend back as soon as she arrived.   

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On 5/17/2022 at 3:26 PM, ItCouldBeWorse said:

I understand the  Mastering the Art of French Cooking had a sales surge while The French Chef was airing, but was Julia actually cooking the versions of those recipes as printed?  I thought that the printed recipes were notoriously detailed and complex, and that the recipes prepared for the television show were far more accessible. 

Yes, she was cooking the same recipes as in her books, at least in her first series.  Not all of them were that complex and most of them she chose to air on the show were those.  That was part of the beauty of her recipes, that she specifically made them more achievable for the average home cook.

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