I finally got to see Julie and Julia at the movies this holiday weekend. What a culinary delight! And I have to say, I identified with both characters – Julia Child of the 1950s and Julie Powell, a young wife in today’s New York. As each of them tried to make sense of their lives, they wondered, "What now?" and found a worthy calling. Most interesting to me was that neither woman knew without a doubt that cooking (or in Julie's case - writing about cooking) was her ticket to fame - they tried and considered alternatives, and when they did begin to cook, their goal was only to find self-fulfillment, not reap wild success.
As a writer, sometimes I wonder if success is the goal or if I should be content with the process, to delight in a nicely-worded paragraph, to feel a sense of accomplishment in nailing a character's personality and voice on the page. Just as Julia mastered the art of speed chopping onions, so we writers must be masters of everyday techniques so that we can move on to more complex work. Only when we've done that can we produce true art or the perfect pastry or a painting that brings tears to the eyes of the beholder.
So, this week's special at the cafe is not a completed dish of an accomplished chef, but a single ingredient that has the potential of making your recipes sing and tears spring from your eyes in its simplicity and delectable flavor.
Sautéed Mushrooms a la JuliaAt medium heat on your stove top, melt enough "real" butter to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet. When butter is melted, add sliced mushrooms of your choice to cover bottom of skillet. It's important that you give the mushrooms room to breathe, so don't crowd them or let them touch. Stir and turn as necessary to the brown-ness you prefer. Mushrooms are delicious atop a grilled burger, snuggled up against a juicy rib-eye or as the perfect topping of a golden omelet or tossed into the recipe of your choice.
So for the price of a movie ticket, popcorn, and coke, I learned that I’ve been cooking mushrooms wrong all these years. No more! I will let my mushrooms "breathe" and serve them with pride.