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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's all Bourdain's fault

You know, as in Anthony Bourdain? I fully blame my current obsession with food and cooking and all things 'foodie' on him. Well, it's not all his fault, but it all started with him....

See, I was at Barnes and Noble a couple years ago, perusing the paperbacks, when I stumbled upon his first non-fiction book Kitchen Confidential. I read the back cover and I was sold. When I finally got it home and started reading it, I couldn't put it down. The world he described was so unlike anything I'd ever experienced and I was entranced with all of it. Granted, I didn't feel a sudden pull to the profession of being a cook, but I was mesmerized by his stories nonetheless. So, I sought out his second book and then his third....

But, that wasn't enough. I wanted to learn more about the world of the professional chef and somehow managed to find Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef-- an account of what it is like to be a student at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) through first-hand experience and interviews. And again, I was struck with how different this world is from my own. I continued to read various books on the subject and would occasionally check in and read Ruhlman's blog, too. I didn't have a ton of background in this new foodie world I was delving into, but I was really enjoying learning all about it.

And all of this talk of 'fresh' and 'homemade' and 'from scratch' started affecting the way I looked at the food I made at home. I was inspired to start cooking more in my own little measly kitchen. Not just your run of the mill stuff, but slightly more complicated dishes that relied on more than just canned or frozen ingredients. And wouldn't you know, I actually enjoyed it. Like, a lot. Especially when most of the meals I made actually tasted good; much better than the half-hearted stuff I had gotten used to making.

My confidence in the kitchen grew and over the past few months I've made a real effort to branch out and consistently try new recipes. Even if it doesn't turn out, at least I'm trying new things and hopefully increasing my skill set at the same time. But, I have still been intimidated to try anything from a 'real' chef. Those recipes from Real Simple and Cooking Light are cake, but one from Bon Appetit or Martha Stewart? Well, those completely frighten me!

But last week, I stumbled upon The French Laundry at Home through Ruhlman's blog. Carol is a lady that began a project to make every recipe in The French Laundry Cookbook; the reason of which, can be found here. I started scrolling through her blog and was awe-struck. She isn't a professional chef, but there she is anyways, working her way through the cookbook, blogging about both her successes and mishaps along the way.

And there it was again -- inspiration. If she can do it, why can't I? Maybe not make all 150 of them, but the idea of trying even a few of those insanely beautiful, gourmet recipes was so exciting! So much so, that I went out that night to buy the book (long story short, I had to order it, but it just got here tonight!)

As I've waited for the book to arrive and my anticipation has grown, I've also realized that this endeavor is purely selfish -- it's not to try and master a recipe for times when company comes over nor is it to provide weeknight meals for the hubs and I. This is purely to try something new and bold, that frightens me as much as it excites me. I am giddy! Also, if you're local, don't be surprised if you get a random call from me to come over one day and sample some goodies. Even if the goods aren't perfect, I'd like to share if they're somewhat edible. ;)

I plan on blogging about the recipes I try, complete with pictures -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, please be sure to visit Carol's blog and give her some comment love -- she is a great writer, an obviously talented cook and the whole reason I'm starting this little project in the first place. And for all you food porn fanatics, there are plenty of things to drool over there ;)

I know I started off blaming Bourdain, but maybe I should be thanking him? I guess so. Without stumbling upon that book of his in the first place, I would have never known what I was missing in the kitchen. :)


  1. By local I sure hope you mean Orange County! You HAVE read Julie and Julia right?

    I am completely 100% supportive of this new endeavor!

  2. I love it. I haven't read any of those books you mentioned, but I can tell how excited you are about it all. I hope you know my pallet is available for your endeavors. ;) Best of luck on your adventure and I hope you have fun!

  3. Very cool. :)

    I have had a subscription to Bon Appetit for over 2 years and have yet to even open the magazine. Maybe I will actually do that one of these days.

  4. [jumping up and down]

    i'm local! i'm local!! :)

    i love how excited and enthusiastic you are about this. i love to cook too, but i don't know if i've got it in me to try the true gourmet recipes. i'll just watch your progress ;)

  5. Please call if you're ever in OC carrying goodies.

    I know the odds are low- but I'm just sayin.

    I'll be test monkey for goodies any day!

  6. I give you serious points for working to increase your confidence. Something I need to definitely work on.

  7. Good for you! I can't wait to hear about your cooking adventures!

  8. bourdain is god =)

    i am impressed by all the reading you've done. don't be scurred by bon apetite, it just involves more time consuming methods and ingredients but nothing you probably don't know already

  9. this sounds like an awesome project. i love the purely selfish motive behind it, too. :)

  10. I too found Carol's blog one day. It's crazy and how she is able to accomplish those dishes. I'm just scurred reading the ingredients from the French Laundry book which one day I will obtain a reservation.

    I'm local and I would definitely love to try your goods. Please post your recipes.

    I too love to read about cooking. I collect cook books. I can't wait to see what you cook up.