OK, I caved. After seeing Julie and Julia a couple of weeks ago, I kept pulling out my Child cookbooks and thinking about diving in. I opened Baking with Julia and made some nice buttermilk muffins, but I really couldn't summon the courage to face anything from Mastering the Art of French Cooking - it all just seems too much, especially on a warm summer evening. And of course everyone else is doing the Julia thing now, which makes it seem silly and redundant for me to chime with one more voice in praise of Mrs. Child.
But...today, I returned home from our CSA pickup laden with fresh eggplants, zucchini, onions, parsley and plum tomatoes. Shortly thereafter, I found this in my garden (OK, not really a garden - in one of my Earthboxes on the deck):
This pepper is particularly beautiful to me because I've not had much success growing my own food. I've managed a few feeble herbs from time to time, and I had one summer of successful cherry tomatoes (successful in that the plants produced nicely, but I can't say much about their taste, because our dog harvested most of them), but that's about it. The Earthbox thing seems almost too good to be true, especially for someone like me.
At any rate, faced with this particular combination of vegetables, I felt I really had no choice. So I dragged out a splattered copy of Julia Child's recipe for Ratatouille (yep, the old complicated one from Mastering) and braced myself.
I made a huge mess, and used too many pots and pans and dishes and spent far too much time peeling tomatoes and measuring zucchini slices and thinking this surely wasn't worth the trouble - which is what I think every time I try a Julia Child recipe. And then I tasted it. Damn. This ratatouille is one of the best things ever produced in my kitchen.
The only real issue I have with the recipe is that it allegedly serves 6-8 people, and I could quite easily have eaten the entire casserole. That's 6-8 French people, who have a much more reasonable attitude about food and who sit and savor their meals and eat small portions of fabulous things. A nice way to go about it, if you have the time.
Oh...what about yesterday's angst and resolve to work to fight hunger, not to wax poetic about food, you ask? Don't worry, I'm still feeling guilty and still determined to do something worthwhile. But sometimes food just tastes really good, and you can't fight it.