Books, Blogs and Recipes in the News

Never Apologize

A book that I have awaited with baited breath is finally coming out this Tuesday: My Life In France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme. Telling the story of Julia’s formative years in France when she attended Ecole du Cordon Bleu in Paris and then the publication of her seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the pioneering television show, “The French Chef,” the book promises to be filled with wisdom, laughter, tears and revelations about what made our grand dame of the kitchen tick. Illustrated with photographs by Julia’s talented husband, Paul Child, the narrative is so well transcribed from Alex’ coversations with his aunt, that apparently one can hear the words in her characteristic tweedling voice.

Providing a glimpse of Julia that few of us have ever seen before, she appears at the beginning of the memoir as a wide-eyed, ignorant young woman who knows nothing of things gastronomic, to the point that she didn’t even know what a shallot was. Nurtured by the tastes of Paul and his gourmet friends, Julia becomes enchanted by the cuisine of France, and decides that she simpy must learn how it is done. And so, with the nose of a reporter hot on the scent of a story, she enrolls in culinary school, and begins applying her intelligence towards decoding the techniques, methods, history and mystery of French food.

And then, she translated it all so that other Americans could do the same.

And she changed the course of the way a nation cooked.

You can guess what I will be doing on Tuesday, I suppose…reading!

Julie Powell Wins Blooker Award

Print on demand publisher has created a new literary award for books that came from blogs.

Called the “Blooker Prize,” the first award recognizes Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, the book that started as a blog chronicling her self-appointed mission to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the span of a year.

Bloggers of all sorts, including the vastly popular political bloggers, are coming up with book deals, but I cannot help that I am pleased that the first “Blooker Prize” went to someone who wrote about food.

Even if she has been known to say nasty things about food bloggers -after- she her book was published, of course.

Anyway, congratulations, Julie, for yourself and for the fact that you have helped raise the profile of all of us “really boring” food bloggers.

Reader’s Digest Acquires

Reader’s Digest, which in 2002 bought out Reiman Publicaitons, the publishers of the highest circulating food magazine, “Taste of Home,” and which launched “Everyday with Rachel Ray” last year, has purchased for 66 million dollars.

The publisher sees the move as a means to create as strong a web presence among foodies as their magazines make in print.

Allrecipes, a website where readers can exchange recipes, will become part of the websites of “Taste of Home,” and the other Reiman publications such as “Light & Tasty.” At present, Reader’s Digest has announced plans to keep’s 45 employees on staff, and in Seattle where the website is based.

I just hope that Reader’s Digest doesn’t change the somewhat busy, but still useable design of to resemble the cluttered look of the Taste of Home website, which has all the hallmarks of a print layout designer creating a bit of digital media: ugly, messy and not user-friendly.


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  1. Hi Barbara,
    Wow. I’ve never heard of or seen Taste of Home.

    Thanks for the head’s up on Julia Child. Will look forward to reading it!

    Comment by Elise — April 2, 2006 #

  2. Julia on Julia has been on my must read book ever since it was published…now MUST really read! MMMmmm…Taste of Home now owns Allrecipes,interesting. I remember when my MIL gave me my 1st subscription to that years ago. I love your writing and the colorful info I glean when I read your LJ. Thanks for what you do.

    Comment by Judi Zock — April 3, 2006 #

  3. Never heard of Taste of Home either. Ugh, here’s hoping they don’t tinker with Allrecipes too much – it’s my go-to website for basic, nice weeknight recipes and ideas. I agree it’s a little cluttered, but it’s so easy to search – I particularly like their “search by ingredient” feature.

    More than anything, I just hope they keep it free. I can very easily see them turning half the website into a premium subscription thing.

    Comment by Bomboniera — April 3, 2006 #

  4. Great article! I would love to read the Julia Child book MY Life in France…book exchange anyone? Please? I have seen a couple of quotes from it, looks like a fun read.

    Comment by Riana — April 3, 2006 #

  5. Elise–Taste of Home is what I once called the “red state cooking magazine.” It is very midwestern, country-farm-cooking centric, and a lot of the recipes are old fashioned, like the stuff I grew up on. It used to be that lots of the recipes contained Cool Whip, Jello, canned cream of whatever soup, bacon sour cream and cream cheese as ingredients, but the recent issues I have picked up have fewer prepared mixes as ingredients and focus more on real food ingredients. It is still simple, honest down-home cooking, which is great, but it is nothing that I generally need recipes for. I grew up eating that stuff and can recreate it with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back.

    The premise is brilliant–the recipes come from readers–who as I understand it, are not paid for their contributions. It saves paying writers, certainly.

    The layout and photos have improved since Reader’s Digest took over, too.

    Judi–I have read bits and pieces of Powell’s book. I have to say, I liked her blog better, and the book less. For a book that is supposedly about cooking all of the recipes in Julia Child’s first book in a year, there isn’t a lot of cooking going on. But, there is a lot of whining, some racist comments, and some hatred toward non-liberals.

    You may want to check the book out of a library or buy it used. I know that if I had bought it at full price and read the bits that I read I would have been very, very upset, because the title of the book is not what the book is really about.

    I don’t know if they will make Allrecipes a subscription fee site or not. I would hope not. What I suspect they will do is merge it with the website for Taste of Home and the other Reiman-division food magazines in some way, which may jeopardize the useable design features of Allrecipes.

    Or, it may not. They may see it as foolish to mess with something that obviously works as it is.

    Riana–I will bet you can find it in libraries very soon. I haven’t even gotten my own copy yet, though I am thrilled that it is coming soon!

    Comment by Barbara — April 3, 2006 #

  6. I too am waiting with baited breath for “MLinF”, I preordered it months ago. I also have “Julie and Julia” in my “to-read” pile. There are so many books I want to read and don’t have tjhe time. Why oh why do I have to go to that stupid job when I could be home reading?!

    Comment by Tina — April 3, 2006 #

  7. I too have been waiting for My Life in France with baited breath. Re Julie, I too have read only selections. “Whiny” would be a good word for the parts I read, but maybe I missed the good parts.

    Certainly in the memoir format, it is difficult to avoid seeming a self-absorbed bore, but it has been done. Usually by writers with an actual interest in other people/issues/ideas/things, and not only in their narrow relation to the author.
    I’m pretty confident that I won’t be bored by Julia’s book.

    Comment by lindy — April 3, 2006 #

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