I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one's hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as "Oh, I don't know how to cook... , " or "Poor little me... , " or "This may taste awful... , " it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, "Yes, you're right, this really is an awful meal!" Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed - eh bien, tant pis! Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile - and learn from her mistakes.
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But my favorite remained the basic roast chicken. What a deceptively simple dish. I had come to believe that one can judge the quality of a cook by his or her roast chicken. Above all, it should taste like chicken: it should be so good that even a perfectly simple, buttery roast should be a delight.
The German birds didn't taste as good as their French cousins, nor did the frozen Dutch chickens we bought in the local supermarkets. The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear.
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In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French good is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture-a gummy beef Wellington, say. But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience. Such was the case with the sole meunie¨re I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948. It was an epiphany. In all the years since the succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of table, and of life, are infinite-toujours bon appetit!
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the average Frenchman would shrug, as if to say: "These notions of yours are all very fascinating, no doubt, but we make a decent living. Nobody has ulcers. I have time to work on my monograph about Balzac, and my foreman enjoys his espaliered pear trees. I think as a matter of fact, we do not wish to make the changes that you suggest.
In the blood-heat of pursuing the enemy, many people are forgetting what we are fighting for. We are fighting for our hard-won liberty and freedom; for our Constitution and the due processes of our laws; and for the right to differ in ideas, religion and politics. I am convinced that in your zeal to fight against our enemies, you, too, have forgotten what you are fighting for.
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Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.
Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which cause me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, 'scientific' though. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.
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Ye gods! But you're not standing around holding it by the hand all this time. No. [...] [T]he dough takes care of itself. [...] While you cannot speed up the process, you can slow it down at any point by setting the dough in a cooler place [...] then continue where you left off, when you are ready to do so. In other words, you are the boss of that dough.
Because of media hype and woefully inadequate information, too many people nowadays are deathly afraid of their food, and what does fear of food do to the digestive system? ... I, for one, would much rather swoon over a few thin slices of prime beefsteak, or one small serving of chocolate mousse, or a sliver of foie gras than indulge to the full on such nonentities as fat-free gelatin puddings.
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I would far prefer to have things happen as they naturally do, such as the mousse refusing to leave the mold, the potatoes sticking to the skillet, the apple charlotte slowly collapsing. One of the secrets of cooking is to learn to correct something if you can, and bear with it if you cannot.
I found that the recipes in most - in all - the books I had were really not adequate. They didn't tell you enough... I won't do anything unless I'm told why I'm doing it. So I felt that we needed fuller explanations so that if you followed one of those recipes, it should turn out exactly right.
In France cooking is a serious art form and a national sport. I think the French enjoy the complication of the art form and the cooking for cooking's sake. You can talk with a concierge or police officer about food in France as a general rule. It is not the general rule here. Classical cuisine, which I hope we are going back to, means certain ways of doing things and certain ways of not doing things. If you know classical French cooking you can do anything. If you don't know the basics, you turn out slop.
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The problem for cookery-bookery writers like me is to understand the extent of our readers' experience. I hope have solved that riddle in my books by simply telling everything. The experienced cook will know to skip through the verbiage, but the explanations will be there for those who still need them.
Learn how to cook! That's the way to save money. You don't save it buying hamburger helpers, and prepared foods; you save it by buying fresh foods in season or in large supply, when they are cheapest and usually best, and you prepare them from scratch at home. Why pay for someone else's work, when if you know how to do it, you can save all that money for yourself?
I admired the English immensely for all that they had endured, and they were certainly honorable, and stopped their cars for pedestrians, and called you "sir" and "madam," and so on. But after a week there, I began to feel wild. It was those ruddy English faces, so held in by duty, the sense of "what is done" and "what is not done," and always swigging tea and chirping, that made me want to scream like a hyena
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