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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

If you give a cook a cookbook

Yesterday, I was browsing Brandon's birthday present, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child. Most cookbooks are somewhat dry, presenting a list of ingredients, and instructions about what to do with the preceding ingredients. The Joy of Cooking isn't so bad, and the section on pastries sustained Brandon through a bad fever in Cairo. Julia Child, however, reads like a novel. A novel that makes you want to go out and commit all of the acts described in aforesaid novel (it's probably good that she never wrote murder mysteries).

Which is how I found myself researching pastured chicken for several hours yesterday morning instead of cleaning my house. Julia Child describes things in such delicious, mouth-watering detail, that when reading the recipe on roast chicken, one can't help but start thinking of reasons to throw a big, complicated, time-consuming dinner party that would honor such a thing as roast chicken. Such a dinner party, however, could not have at its centerpiece a dry, sawdust-tasting grocery store chicken. Those animals belong in a pot-pie, or soup. No, for such a glorious centerpiece, a more fitting bird must be found, one that grew up knowing it was a chicken, and had to taste like the grand heritage it descended from. Some historians claim that Richard the Lionhearted was captured in Austria because, although posing as a commoner, he was demanding roast chicken (after all he was French), and everyone knew that only nobility ate roast chicken.

Luckily, a recent trend has begun towards -free foods. Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, animal product-free, homogenization-free, pasteurization-free (I'm not kidding), and perhaps food-free. And so, after much searching, a store was found locally that claims to sell only Real Food (instead of the pretend styrofoam kind that is only painted to look like food), that includes pastured chicken. And that's the problem with dreams of delicious dinner parties. They're always time consuming, and always expensive.