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Julia Child has a bestseller, but her recipes may be tweaked by a health-conscious populace

Mastering-the-art-of-french The New York Times ran an interesting story Sunday that is still topping its most e-mailed list. It's titled, "After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All." It explores the Julia mania that has struck the country since the release of the film "Julie & Julia." Apparently, hordes of people are leaving theaters and running to bookstores to buy copies of Child's 48-year-old cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

The book will debut at No. 1 on the New York Times' Aug. 30 bestseller list in the advice and how-to category:

Amazing not just because the book is almost half a century old, costs $40 and contains 752 pages of labor-intensive and time-consuming recipes — the art of French cooking is indeed hard to master — but also for what those recipes contain.

In a decade when cookbooks promise 20-minute dinners that are light on calories, Ms. Child’s recipes feature instructions like “thin out with more spoonfuls of cream” (Veau Prince Orloff, or veal with onions and mushrooms, pages 355-7) or “sauté the bacon in the butter for several minutes” (Navets à la Champenoise, or turnip casserole, pages 488-9). And for a generation raised to believe that Jell-O should have marshmallows in it, there is plenty of aspic — the kind made with meat.

The story contains a particularly humorous anecdote from a shocked reader, Melissah Bruce-Weiner, who simply couldn't bring herself to make Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe as it was written. Instead of using pork fat, she used a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of French onion soup and a can of red wine and called her creation “beef fauxguignon.”

“Yes, Julia Child rolled over in her grave when I opened the cream of mushroom soup, I’m pretty sure of that. But you know what? That’s our world," said Bruce-Weiner.

Maybe some saucy young writer will now come along and blog about modifying every single recipe in Child's seminal book. That might make for a good sequel -- even if for some Child fans it would seem more like a horror film.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Associated Press / Knopf

Comments () | Archives (16)

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give me the pork fat anyday, not that i would be eating this everyday.

I think Julia has many interesting recipes, but since I do not eat pork I find a great majority of meat recipes useless. I work in cardiac medicine and will not eat anything that shares similar cellular structure during valve transplants. It does not digest to say the least, and further poisons the body.

I got her cookbook for myself for Christmas after seeing the movie. I am definitely adding an extra day to my gym routine! And I am only doing one recipe per week due to a strict budget (well, maybe some blanching of vegetables will be interspersed in-between). Also the experts say adding calcium to your diet helps with weight loss, so is adding milk and butter really that bad if you are exercising? I can see why it would be bad if you weren't exercising.

I guess I'm saucy, and young at heart...I'm cooking and re-mastering the Art of French Cooking on my new blog - original, maybe not. But I'm having a great time and it's helping me redefine my own cooking, years after I first learned from Julia.


From a guy that has lost 50 pounds there is nothing wrong with Julia Child's receipes if one remembers her French cuisine eating mantra. Small portions, no seconds, no snacks. Moderation.

When you serve food with wine and olive oil, it's rich and filling and goes a long way in undoing any harm of butter. I doubt if either she or her husband died of clogged arteries. Kids today are not obese because they eat too much fat, but because they have become addicted to inactivity because of ipods, video games, tv's and computers. Give Julia her due, she was fabulous.

Honorah: the recipe Julie was making was a bruschetta. You should be able to find something like it in any self-respecting cookbook. I take it you mean "chopped", and not "shopped" tomatoes.

I loved the movie - I like to cook a lot but I was inspired by the movie to cook more. I was wondering what is the recipe for the fried sliced bread, fried in butter served with shopped tomatoes and basil. Julie cooked it in the movie.
Do you know what the name of the recipe is?
Much appreciate!!

Hi, actually this idea of bringing modern and easy ways to cook Julia's dishes sounds great!!!! I'm a chef and I will always respect the clasics, but why not enjoy a french dish with half the time and calories :0)

as followup, not only does Julia Child's recipe have healthier ingredients than cans of Campbell's soup, it also has a couple steps of skimming fat from the dish while it cooks. Here is the original recipe from the publisher.


I pity Ms. Bruce-Weiner and her world. A serving of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup has 6g of fat and 870mg of sodium, and Campbell's Onion Soup 2g of fat and 900mg of sodium per serving, with each serving of 100 calories. Child's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe calls for six ounces of bacon in the recipe which serves six people, where one ounce of bacon has 50 calories, 4.5g of fat and 150mg of sodium. So the 'modern healthy' change is to remove the flavor, keep the fat and add multiples of sodium?

Oh, dear. Cream of mushroom soup? That person must be from Wisconsin. I am married to a preacher's kid from Wisconsin, and when we married 30 years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a box of index cards full of nasty recipes all glued together with cream of mushroom soup. If you are going to take the time to do a Julia Child recipe at all, you might as well do it right. But then, are some things.... Like, I've never seen the point of doing an aspic. However, the late lamented Women's Exchange Tea Room in Baltimore made a wonderful tomato aspic, I'd love to learn how to make that.

Luckily people are figuring out that the low-fat diet recommendations of the past 40 years are totally unfounded. Eating fat does not make you fat or clog your arteries. It fills you up and prevents you from binging on grains and sugars, the real problem foods. Check out "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.

Both Julia Child and her husband lived to over 90 years old eating her food, just the way she wanted it. And they both smoked. So why don't we stop kidding ourselves and admit that enjoying life (and being in the possession of a happy case of good genes) will do more for you than eating fluffed air everyday. Long live wine and butter and especially cream!

Loved the movie. Actually reviewed it on my blog which although I just started talking about the weight loss on my blog, I have actually lost close to 30 lbs by adding cream, butter, bacon. It's all about savoring each and every bite, therefore needing smaller portions of these decadent culinary delights. Julia & Julie courageous women the two of them!

I would guess that the sodium content of the two cans of soup (and the fat from cream of mushroom) would be worse than the negatives from pork fat.


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