My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Little Tong Action

Here’s a kitchen utensils that I find invaluable, yet I’ve never seen Julia Child ever use it.

A simple pair of tongs. They pretty much stay in my right hand while I’m cooking and will be used for a multitude of purposes: To flip sautéing chicken, give a sauce a quick stir, deglaze a sauté pan, whirl some boiling pasta, plating an entrée, and later, scraping plates into the sink. Yet, if you watch decades of Julia’s programs, not once will you see a pair of tongs being used.

Frankly, she seems to spend an inordinate amount of time clumsily grasping things out of pans with two spoons, often with a couple of flimsy plastic ones. I could never figure out why. Perhaps tongs weren’t utilized in France when she learned to cook. Maybe it’s because she didn’t spend much time in professional kitchen where there’s often a dozen tongs lying about. But it’s very obvious she never once used a pair of tongs on TV.

There are all kinds of tongs out there to choose from. Heavy duty ones that lock on the end are good if you don’t want them springing open in your utensil drawer. There are silicone-tipped tongs that can be used on non-stick pans. For me, I use the cheap, garden variety, restaurant-kitchen tongs.

Again, the absence of tongs in Julia’s kitchen is a mystery. She wholeheartedly embraced new gadgets such as the microplane, the Cuisinart and non-stick equipment.

But the woman never employed any tong-action.

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