“For the Servantless American Cook”…

A couple of days ago I ran away from home. I slipped out of my video game consumed house and drove to the closest Barnes and Nobles. Big Sigh. No shooting guns, no repeating music, no badly done story telling sequences inbetween drooning action.

I haven’t visited a bookstore in a long while because lately I have been doing all of my book shopping on my iPhone with the Amazon Kindle App. Right this minute I have four books just waiting to be read on my phone. But they will just have to keep waiting because I am in the middle of reading “My Life In France” by Julia Child. I am right at the part where she finally, after years of slaving over “the book” as she calls it (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) gets published.

As I read the description of her excitement and fear, hardwork and determination, I suddenly wanted to see the book, pick it up and feel it’s weight. I wanted to read the words that she typed on her old typewriter, “For the Servantless American Cook.” I wanted to see the evidence of it’s reality in today’s world.

I wandered around Barnes and Noble and made my way back to the Cookbook section. As I rounded the corner, I expected to see “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” displayed prominently on the shelf, lit with care. But I couldn’t find it at all! I found the book “Julie and Julia” and even “My Life in France” but no cookbook. I hunted through the mass amount of cookbooks but to no avail. I finally sat down in what looked like a wooden kitchen chair that you would find in your grandma’s kitchen, to just enjoy being surrounded by books…and quietness.

I couldn’t really run away for long because my family was expecting dinner- of all things! Then on my way out I found it  just sitting there on a table piled high with all sorts of other books. I picked it up, opened to the introduction page and started reading. I immediately realized the reason why this book was different from the others. Julia Child writes, “For the servantless American Cook..” with no condensation in the phrase. She says “for the housewife/chauffuer” and later “the housewife/nurse/ maid/ chauffer.”

As I read those phrases, I laughed out loud! Yes, that is what I feel like most of the time. A women with a lot of ” / ” inbetween all the roles she fulfills. Then Julia goes on to describe cooking as more than just putting a meal on the table, but someting to enjoy. Creating a beautiful work of art in the middle of your day that will express your love for those you are cooking for. Well shoot, I want to do that! Julia Child makes cooking sound like a mini- vacation from the housewife/chauffer life, a pause in your day to create art. It made me want to try some of those intimidating recipes. I haven’t of course. I didn’t even buy the cookbook (but I might ask for it as a birthday present). You must understand -Pampered Chef is about as fancy as I get.  The thought of cooking from scratch is unrealistic for me and more time consuming than I can handle. Or so I thought. Reading Julia Child’s introduction was making me wonder if it might be worth it. This is why her book sold. That and she worked like a dog to create something amazing as well as doing everything possible to get it in people’s hands. Did you know she was on TV before she owned one?

I stood at the table in the middle isle of Barne’s and Noble’s looking at a book that was a labor of love for a woman in her 40’s who had discovered her passion. After recieving her first rejection letter from a publisher about this very book, Julia writes ” I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I had gotten the job done, I was proud of it, and now I had a whole batch of foolproof recipes to use. Besides, I had found myself through the arduous writing process. Even if we were never able to publish our book, I had discovered my raison d’etre in life, and would continue my self-training and teaching.”

Raison d’etre means “reason for being.”

It reminds me that the journey is as important as the destination.  Sometimes pursuing your passion has more to do with what you discover along the way than where you end up. There are moment’s you do something and experience that indefinable “reason for being.” Whether or not I ever get paid for it, writing is endlessly fulfilling to me.  Unfolding the Word of God like the precious treasure that it is, is as well.  Sitting across from a friend and encouraging them is one of those moments.  Hearing my boys laugh is one. Seeing my husband smile is one too.

After spending a few minutes with “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and a few hours reading “My Life in France” I am inspired to maybe trying a recipe or two. Maybe an omelet.  But more than that, I am inspired to continue to define my passion. To pursue with determination my “reason for being.” To create something that will impact lives and improve them for generations after I am gone. To someday feel with my own hands the weight of something that is real and will really make a difference.

Maybe in the introduction for (0ne of) my book (s) will be found this sentence, or something like it:
“For the everyday woman living in the humdrum of extraordinary circumstances.”

It could happen.

6 thoughts on ““For the Servantless American Cook”…

  1. Christl Boyd says:

    I love this, Cindy. Incredible thoughts. Quiet inspiration. Great reminder…to enjoy the journey. Thanks for ‘new direction’ and thought provoking encouragement.

  2. Marc Hanson says:

    Hi Sis,

    I just wanted to say that this is your best post yet. the style , the pacing, you are on a good track here. This is the first post I have read of yours where it does not feel edited(even though I am sure it was)

    well done Sis. I am proud of you.

  3. Raquel Hunsberger says:

    This is truth and wisdom and it tastes delicious. It is the perfect reminder to me who is trying to desperately reach my goals, as abstract as they might be. At some point I need to step off the trail for a breather, look back at how far I have come and appreciate the progress as well as the view.

  4. lefthandofeminism says:

    Hi Cindy:
    I love the way you write! And I can relate to your search for the perfect recipe in the perfect cookbook.

    My mom gave me Julia Child’s _The Way to Cook _just before she died. I’ve used it a lot and go to back to it whenever I’m baking or cooking meat. Lately I’ve been relying on Mark Bittman two classics, _How to Cook Everything_ and _How to Cook Everything Vegetarian_. What I love about Bittman, besides his delightful podcasts, is that he’s clearly writing for cooks who fancy themselves creative persons. His recipes are simple and straightforward, but he also always offers lots of suggestions for modifying the meal.

    So, last night, I boiled up some potato gnocchi and looked for what Bittman thought would go well with them saucewise. I ended up making a delicious walnut roux. I didn’t have creme, so I used 2 per cent milk, and it ended up quite well. At least Brendan said he liked it.

    Truth be told, he is very polite and always says he likes what I prepare. In fact, I ate more than anyone else at the table.

    Anyways, it’s nice to have a fellow writer in the family and a cousin on wordpress.


    • cindygrasso says:

      Hi Kimberly,
      How wonderful to discover that you are on wordpress and a writer as well! I have just started blogging and find I love the process of writing this way. I am just a beginner and your words of encouragement mean so much. I have yet to pop over and read your blog (and subscribe) but the title alone peeks my interest. When I was at Barnes n Nobles, I picked up, “The Way to Cook” and thought about purchasing it. Now with your recommendation giving me a nudge, maybe I will. I will also look at Mark Bittman’s books. What a difference it makes to know someone who is putting the books to practice and that they work. And my mouth was watering as you described the potato gnocchi with the walnut roux, l love walnuts.

      I just saw that Kari had her babies – congratulations all around!!! I want to run down to SF and see her as she is only about a couple of hours away. This connecting of family is a great gift that I am so thankful for.


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