Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

So apparently there comes a day in the life of every blogger, when he or she simply gets bored, fed-up, or some combination of both. 

For some, it happens sooner rather than later.  For others, it starts when they pour their soul into an article that no one reads.  For me, it all started when the Russians began to invade! 

That’s right, they’re invading…

A few days ago, I began to notice a strange referring website pop-up in my tracking statistics (for any non-bloggers this is a site that sends readers to your blog for a particular posting or article).  On the surface referring websites are great!  They direct people to your site who otherwise would never visit it.  These sites help to establish your website or blog as an authority on a given subject.

Unfortunately, the same fictitious credit card company that employs the jolly “Peggy” from the trite modern marketing campaign has figured out how to use such sites to undermine the power of such referrals.  So when my deliciously derisive review of the Huntsville, Ala., restaurant Café Berlin became synonymous with a cleverly titled site “getdentalimplantinfo.com” (WARNING: DO NOT VISIT THIS SITE) hosted from Russia, I was ready to pull the plug. 

Then I discovered the perfect article.  As somewhat of a Julia Child devotee, it was one of those that I had to read.  For anyone who has never attempted a one of Ms. Child’s recipes, be advised that they are not for the casual weekend cook, nor are they to be attempted without the “courage of your convictions.”  To master one of her recipes is the culinary equivalent of a scaling a small mountain without rock climbing equipment (that is to say it’s a damn impossible feat, at least for someone living a modern life). 
The Always Cheerful Julia Child
What surprised me about this particular article was its total abandonment of the normal bravado that fills food blogs (this one included).  These authors were willing to admit the difficulty in preparing what has to be one of the most challenging recipes Child and Beck ever conceived Pate de Canard en Croute (de boned duck, stuffed with a meatloaf, and wrapped in dough).  It was in Devra First and Wesley Morris’ acceptance of their imperfections that I rediscovered why I am personally in awe of Julia (yes even before the movie). 

Though the degree of difficulty may be low for some of Child’s dishes, the rigor and patience most of these recipes require can be daunting. Julie Powell started cooking from the book as a kind of lark. She finished in respectful awe. Using “Mastering the Art,’’ using it seriously, is like performing Shakespeare. The recipes are like his plays. Rightly or not, every story since seems to trace back to him. The same is true for Western cooking and Child.

No one speaks like Shakespeare’s characters nowadays. No one really cooks like Child regularly (seriously, aspic?). But to use “Mastering the Art of French Cooking’’ is to approach an art form that could expose your limitations in the kitchen while making you a better cook. Actors love Shakespeare for what it challenges them to bring out of themselves. You could make a similar argument for cooks and Child. She’s an occasion to which you want to rise.”
(from the article “A kitchen, a bottle of wine, and a duck recipe. Easy, right?” by Devra First and Wesley Morris)

Sure, I’m no Lawrence Olivier…But even Walter Mitty gets to dream right?

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