From Julia Child's Kitchen by Julia Child

675 pages; Black and white photos and sketches.  Hard Cover

Gramercy Books, New York, New York; 1999 edition

Reviewed by Jim Hooper, for Good Cooking, March, 2003

From Julia Child's Kitchen, by Julia Child, is not new, but it is a wonderful cookbook. The fact that it is still in print and readily available some 28 years after its original printing is a testament to its enduring value to cooks of different generations and varied abilities. 

This book is wonderfully written in an informal and personal style. There are many recipes and techniques contained in its 675 pages that are organized into categories such as soups, fish, meats, etc. Many of the recipes tend to be written with the beginning cook in mind, but with numerous variations on the theme aimed at the more accomplished chef. We found all recipes to be well organized and written with clear detail. At its heart, this book is a teaching cookbook; in her preface, Julia states that she feels detailed recipes to be teaching recipes and she considers this book to be a "private cooking school".

The enthusiastic chef will particularly appreciate learning about the trial and error that went into the development of many of the recipes; her explanation of why a certain dish or technique works or doesn't work provides valuable knowledge for future culinary endeavors.

Each of the 4 recipes that we tested (and then enjoyed for our family's Sunday dinner) was straightforward, easy to understand, and quite delicious. We found the Crisp, Brown Sautéed Chicken (page 187) easy to prepare and basic; the Potatoes Sautéed in Oil with Garlic and Herbs (page 417) is also easy to prep and is a nice variation of a potato dish; the garlic is sautéed as whole, unpeeled cloves so each diner can moderate their own garlic consumption. The Eggplant Pizza (page 398) is quick, fun and a good way to get your kids to eat eggplant. But the highlight of our meal was Julia's Strawberry Soufflé, (page 527). This recipe was her 29th variation in an attempt to find a more "user friendly" formula than the one that appeared in the 1st edition of this book and on her television show; (her earlier version proved to be fragile and collapsible, but on this version, she "found the whole of it".) This soufflé is a light, beautiful dessert with vibrant color and a wonderfully fresh strawberry taste; it has an ethereal quality that will delight you and your guests.

All in all, this is not only an excellent cookbook; it is a classic that would be at home in anyone's cookbook library. 

A Good Cooking Note---Julia, formerly a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident, now resides in her native Santa Barbara, California.  She recently had knee replacement surgery, which replaced the knee replacements she had many years ago.  Julia is now 94 and although she doesn't cook at home regularly she still enjoys dining out with friends and enjoying a glass of wine.  Good Cooking has the fortune of knowing Julia for many years.  If it were not for her Public Broadcasting Series "The French Chef", many Americans may not have been exposed to French cooking in the 60's and 70's. Bon Appetit Julia!