What would I tell my younger self? Part of me was hesitant to broach the topic because I feared there’s not enough room in cyberspace once I get going, but I’m going to keep this concise because I do have a point…I promise!
“If I knew then what I knew now” crosses my mind more often than not. And one thing I would have done differently would have been to enroll in Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu a year or two after I graduated college.–I would have registered for the full program covering both pastry and savory. Is this because I want to open my own restaurant? Nope. It’s because a culinary education would have made me a better writer in general. But in my early twenties, I didn’t know I would ultimately be a food writer and, though I’m loath to admit this, the thought of going to culinary school for anything other than working in the culinary sector would never have occurred to me.
When I worked in food PR, I met several food writers and editors who went to culinary school, and I thought it was the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. So, while Le Cordon Bleu might not be in the foreseeable future, I still haven’t given up on it. But I had an idea to hold me over in the meantime…
Many years ago, I was having dinner with one of the said food editors and I inquired about her favorite cookbook. “I Know How to Cook,” she told me.
“That’s the cookbook that was translated from French to English for the first time ever!” I exclaimed …I had just read it about it, though now I can’t remember where. So, I treated myself to a copy of this revered tome which sat on a bookshelf for ages until I managed to fit it in my suitcase for one of New-York-to-Milan trips where it sat on my bookshelf for a few years…until rather recently.
Let me back up here. Each Christmas, my cousin Liz makes these exquisite little buttery cookies–they’re delicately crunchy and bursting with flavor, and she learned to make them in home economics. Yet, by the time I got to high school, home economics had been removed from the curriculum (Liz is my father’s first cousin so my second cousin), but the classrooms remained intact, but we, sadly, used for chemistry class.
As adults, my friends and I have discussed how much we regret not having had a home economics class, and I truly stand behind Anthony Bourdain when said eliminating home economics was a mistake, that it should have been required for both men and women. I believe home economics should be re-instated in all high school curriculums. And now back to the book…
I Know How to Cook was written by Ginette Mathiot, a French food writer and home economist who’s considered a leading home cooking authority. Je sais cuisiner, as her book is called in French, has recipes for several fundamentals and techniques that I would have learned at Le Cordon Bleu. While I realize a book is by no means the same as learning in a classroom, I thought perhaps it could be a suitable substitution for the time being. And where better to hold myself accountable than here? So, starting next week, (since I enjoy writing about cooking so much!)
I’ll be writing at least three times a month about cooking and recipes. I am in Italy after all, so I’ll, of course, be writing about Italian food. But I think a French book is a great way to learn the fundamentals–plus, I love France (particularly Paris) just as much as I love Italy.
I know I’m guilty of slacking on this blog quite a bit, but I’m a slacker no more…I promise! Until next time…