The other day I was consumed by a sudden burning desire to learn more about French food.  It didn’t just spring on me out of the blue, I was watching “Julie and Julia” and just fell in love with the concept of the food she was cooking.  I get that way sometimes, when reading a book or watching a movie with graphic food imagery.  I get “the itch”.  So I headed to Half Price Books with Simon on my hip in search of :

1) Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, because just out of curiosity I would like to read it (and by that I mean thumb through it) in all of it’s glory, and I also wanted to see if there was any glimmer of a chance of my actually cooking any of the recipes.

2) If said MtAoFC turned out to be, as expected, absolutely ridiculous and impractical, find another French cookbook with recipes that could actually be cooked without dismembering a lobster, making homemade puff pastry, or boiling a calves foot for five hours, etc.

But the beauty of a trip to HPB is that you just never know what you’re going to walk out of the store with, so I bought this:

Yep.  Curries.  Absolutely nothing to do with French food because they didn’t have MtAoFC nor any other decent looking alternatives.  But since I got into making Indian food after I was hit with a similar “itch” last year, this looked perfect for me; quick, spicy recipes and pretty pictures.  So I made the Chicken Tikka Masala, albeit a heavily edited version because I WANT IT THE WAY I WANT IT, damnit!

And it was da bomb, thankyouverymuch.

And here we are, finally getting to the point of this post; discussing the beauty of that which a fine cookbook can present; POSSIBILITIES.

Cookbooks are my own personal version of porn (in case you hadn’t picked up on the sexually charged first paragraph).  When I look through a good cookbook (and I mean a good one with well written intros and professional photographs, not the typewriter written, spiral bound church cookbook with pot pie and brownie recipes)it’s the same concept as when a man looks at a nudie magazine.  It presents the possibility.  Yes, dude, that beautiful woman actually exists somewhere in the world, and just IMAGINE what you can do to her (or what she can do to you)! To me, I stare at that gorgeous casserole dish I would just love to own, filled with the perfectly baked mac ‘n’ cheese covered in crispy browned and buttery bread crumbs with just a bit of crumbled bacon on top and I can see that little bit of browned cheese juuuuust falling off the edge of the dish that I would just looooove snatch up and devour because noooooobody would know, and it’s probably going to fall off anyways when I move the dish……mmmmmmmmm…hmmmmmmmmm..

….um….where was I?

Oh yeah, possibilities.  Despite my admitted love of cookbooks I actually own very few.  I don’t bring a book home just for viewing pleasure, I only buy books for a purpose.  Because that’s what I do, I cook food with PURPOSE.  Cultural, sentimental, seasonal, whatever it may be, I like to make food you can feel; food with a story.  I bring home books that present me with the possibility of achieving this purpose.  And then I make them my own by rarely actually following the recipes perfectly.  Hence the adjustments to the Tikka Masala.

Unfortunately possible does not always mean probable.  I bought “Cooking for Baby” after having fallen in love with the idea of the book in the store.


Yes, I can possibly get Simon to eat all of these lovely foods…

…but it’s not very probable. Because thus far Simon has rejected anything that:

1) Isn’t sweet

2) Isn’t sweet….wait, I already said that.

3) Isn’t sweet….dammit!

All of these enticing recipes and he won’t touch any of them unless I mix them 1:2 with pear puree. Shit, I could probably get the kid to eat dirt if it was mixed in with pear.  It’s his nectar.  His ambrosia.  Pear = love for Simon.


But I keep holding onto the possibility of him suddenly and inexplicably starting to eat the food I cook for him.  I keep thumbing through my cookbooks, coming up with ideas. And I keep cooking for him, despite the endless rejections. Because it’s just 18 more years until he leaves for college. I have time.  But for now I just cook for two.  For now.

And by the way, I ordered Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris” online after a heart thumping encounter with it at Barnes and Noble.  Gorgeous book, but shiiiiit, Ina, $35? Thanks Amazon used books! $16.99! I’ll let you know how it goes…


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