Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jacques Pepin - The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen

I have just finished the most lovely book, Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen.  I realize I may be late coming to the table since Jacques Pepin's memoir was published in 2003 but better late than never.  Not only is his approach to food and cooking so sincere and passionate, his ability to storytell is fantastic.  I'm only sorry I've finished the book.  Typically I believe in passing books on to friends, family or the second hand store but this one is staying in my libary, my cookbook libary to be exact.  He ends each chapter by sharing a wonderful recipe out of his repetoire.  I've already incorporated his New England Clam Chowder recipe when making my own last week.

Jacques, like most french cooks (well all good cooks really) appreciates eating local and seasonal.  Funny how the rest of us are just getting that message now.  Years of watching food television programming certainly tained me as I recreated the recipes shown, fussy and with ingredients typically not local or in season.  But I have always noticed how I make different types of recipes in the different seasons because I feel like eating different things depending on the weather.  Some people actually make the same things all year around!  I get excited when the seasons' peaking produce hits the markets and stores.  I would like to mention that I cut my teeth on old PBS cooking shows of the late 70's and early 80's, the good ones that showed technique for bringing out the best in food and respecting the ingredients, which programming is thankfully getting back to these days.  I saw more than one Julia Child and Jacques shows back in the day.  I used to then hit the kitchen and try to emulate what they had done or how they had done it, putting on my own cooking show for the dog.  I was about 9....  Thanks Julia and Jacques.

One thing that stuck out in this book for me was the love Jacques has of living off the land, foraging and growing what you eat.  There is nothing I love more than heading out into the yard to snip some lettuce and fresh herbs for the days meals.  And next year?!  Well I'll be trimming off those dandelion leaves in the early spring now that I know when best to harvest them courtesy of Jacques directions.  (I have a ton on my side lawn!) Then I'll open up Jacques' book and make his Dandelion salad.  Not sure I can say the same for the snails/slugs in my garden that he liked to harvest around his home.  My North American palate is just not that adventurous I'm afraid to say....

No comments: