I know the title of this blog is "Good Stuff NW" and it's supposed to be about good stuff in the Northwest, but, darn it, sometimes there's just something I need to write about that's not in the NW. And it's my blog and I get to make the rules (spoiled seven-year-old that I am). And, if you want to get picky about it, this is something you can enjoy in the NW or wherever you might be.
So enough with the self-justification. What I'm so slowly getting at is that we've been watching a terrific new set of DVDs of Julia Child's "The French Chef" series that shows Julia from her very first live show (Boeuf Bourgignon) to her Roast Chicken Show where she introduces us to the Chicken Sisters ("Miss Broiler, Miss Fryer, Miss Roaster, Miss Caponette..."). From the changing sets to the blossoming from black-and-white to full color, Julia presides over her kitchen with rolling pin in hand ready to attack the recipe at hand with verve and gusto, her battle cry of "Bon courage!" not far from her lips.
Most shows were done in one take, and it's a fascinating look at the development of television as a medium. It's nothing like the smooth and facile chefs of the Food Network where nary a hair is ever out of place, where everything is choreographed and edited within an inch of its life and every dish looks easy to prepare and always (always!) turns out beautifully. Julia has spatulas flying out of mixers, tarte tatin unmolding from the pan in a glop of overcooked apples and omelettes that don't quite look the way they should, and she handles it all with a laugh and suggestions on how to handle these kitchen disasters when company's coming (or even sitting at the table).
Needless to say, I'm a Julia junkie and love her natural, open-hearted presentation. Because of the shows, we've been obsessing about those omelettes lately, and Dave's committed to creating a genuine baguette in our very own kitchen. This is all to say that any or all of these sets would make a great gift for a cook, a TV junkie or anyone who loves food and life.
Details: Julia Child - The French Chef; The French Chef with Julia Child 2; Julia Child! The French Chef 3. Each set contains 3 disks and approximately 18 episodes along with printable recipes; the third set has a very good one-hour American Masters biography on the first disk.