Monday, September 07, 2009


Tonight I made ratatouille from the eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, parsley, and tomatoes I bought Saturday at the Farmers Market. While it was in the oven as shown, I looked up Julia Child's recipe for this dish on p. 503 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As I said earlier today, I've internalized quite a few of her recipes -- I can't imagine how many times I've come home from the market and made this dish.

I rarely look at the recipe any more, but I confirmed my claim. I used the ingredients she calls for -- in more or less similar proportions. The way I make it now includes, in addition to parsley, some herbs de provence, influence of my friend Michelle and her amazing kitchen in Cotignac in the Var region of France.

Michelle bought her vegetables at the little local markets in town -- for ratatouille, she says, you need only good eggplant, courgettes, herbs, and tomatoes. And she picked rosemary and sage from the weedy-looking edges of the fields and vineyards near her farmhouse (now sold). French food in general -- and as presented by Julia Child -- has always been based on good, local produce. If anyone views local and French as separate goals, they are only looking at American fads, not at basics.

I have changed Julia Child's method slightly, as well as adding more herbs. For one: eggplants now, according to experts, no longer need salting as they are not bitter -- especially not the very small white ones from the market. Further, instead of frying them, I now oil the slices and bake them on a heavy cookie sheet to save time. I'm not as fanatic about seeding the tomatoes as I used to be, either, as I think some of that jelly-like tomato pulp is quite flavorful when the tomatoes are so perfect and ripe. Also, as I make a large quantity I do the final cooking in the oven -- and I've already frozen some for next winter. Does this disqualify my claim that I am doing it by the Julia Child method? Ratatouille is not a finicky dish; measuring exactly would be silly. I think I've internalized it.

Well, that's one follow up to my post from this morning. Also important to me -- lots of people are still buying Julia Child's book as shown from the following amazon info about it: Sales Rank: #2 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Popular in this category:

#1 in Books > Cooking, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > French

And by the way -- it was delicious! For another version of my dish see Oh, Rats.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This looks lovely, Mae. Julia's ratatouille brings back memories of my teens, my mother happily making various recipes a la Julia.

I really should make some this week before all those wonderful vegetables are gone!

Jeanie said...

Ha! Wonderful! I got Julia's book for my birthday and of course the first recipe I went to after the market was the ratatouille. Unfortunately, I went to the cookbook about two hours before dinner, and when I saw Julia's prep, I was deflated. I knew I couldn't make the Hungry One wait that long! While it's still on my agenda, I think I will incorporate some of your suggestions! Thanks!