Recently, Amy Bergstrom asked if I had ever gotten into the Julie/Julia Project, wherein Julie Powell, mild-mannered government drone by day spent her nights for an entire year cooking every recipe (524 of them) in the first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In her spare time, she blogged about it.
Through the project, she worked her way through the chapters. Athough she also backslid, at times ordering from Domino's,she faithfully produced dish after dish.
Here, she writes about one difficulty she encountered. Killing a live lobster to make homard Thermidor.
(I feel the same way. I don't like to see my food alive, and certainly don't like to be the one to kill it. I like to keep a certain distance, mentally and physically. Red, who had grown up on a farm and hunted for his dinner as a kid, used to enjoy making me squirm talking about calves and cows with big brown eyes, or how smart pigs are, and how they are only dirty because of how people raise them. He also used to like to tell me what went into bologna and hot dogs (cow lips and pussy). He also hoped that we would retire to a farm and raise our own food. And that I would go outside and wring the necks on chickens, and pull their feathers, then dip them in boiling water so that I could pluck the pin feathers. And then fry them. Mmmm.
In a way, it's a good thing he didn't live to find out how far from his dream our future was going to be.)
I may try making lobster Thermidor (named for the eleventh month of the French Republican calendar). But rest assured that I will start with lobster tails, or something. A few years ago, my sister, who lived in Maine, shipped my father some live lobsters for his birthday. My husband boiled them. The rest of us couldn't bear to watch, nor did we much enjoy the meal, even though as I recall we braced ourselves with a fair amount of champagne.
Final digression: The best lobster Thermidor I ever ate was in Monrovia, Liberia, several decades ago. My father was working there with the Vocie of America. It was at the nicest restaurant in town, at the beach: The Atlantic-Rasputin Restaurant. I'll never forget the name. And the lobster was sublime.
Anyway, back to Julie Powell. She made all the dishes in her small Long Island kitchen. This NYT article appeared when she had 13 days and 22 recipes to go to complete her goal.
She published her best-selling cookbook, Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Later she went through a demoralizing divorce, and moved to the West Coast.
Julie Powell earned every bit of her fame. She worked hard to complete the recipes, and then came the mixed blessing of eating them with all the butter and cream. I'm a bit jealous. She got to eat the food of the gods, but there's a price. She also had to eat the kidneys, the brains, the sweetbreads. I like to think I am pretty adventuresome, in a culinary sense if no other, but I'd have had to be pretty lubricated to get some of those things down.
I guess that just goes to show my insight isn't so insightful. Oh, well.
The image was taken from a blog called Esurientes- The Comfort Zone, by Niki in Melbourne, Australia. If you want to drool over your keyboard, check it out.