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Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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For over fifty years, New York Times bestseller Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been the definitive book on the subject for American readers. Featuring 524 delicious recipes, in its pages home cooks will find something for everyone, from seasoned experts to beginners who love good food and long to reproduce the savory delights of French cuisine, from historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. Here Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle break down the classic foods of France into a logical sequence of themes and variations rather than presenting an endless and diffuse catalogue of dishes. Throughout, the focus is on key recipes that form the backbone of French cookery and lend themselves to an infinite number of elaborations--bound to increase anyone's culinary repertoire. With over 100 instructive illustrations to guide readers every step of the way, Mastering the Art of French Cooking deserves a place of honor in every kitchen in America.

684 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1961

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About the author

Julia Child

92 books716 followers
Julia Child was a famous American cook, author, and television personality who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, showcasing her sui generis television persona, the series The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 549 reviews
Profile Image for Sheila .
1,936 reviews
July 26, 2013
My husband watched the movie Julie & Julia on television, and asked me why I didn't have these cookbooks. Since I didn't have a good answer for him I went out and bought them, the boxed set of both Volume 1 and Volume 2.

My first recipe cooked was Soupe a L'oignon (onion soup), because, well, I love French Onion Soup so this seemed like a good place to start. I followed the recipe to the letter, a process which took me about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. The day I cooked it, some contractors were working on the roof of our house. I stepped outside towards the end of the simmer and a contractor on the roof yells down "What on earth are you cooking in there? It smells absolutely divine!" I had the stove vent on, and the smells of the simmering soup were wafting up to him on the roof.

Once it was done I used my husband as my guinea pig, and gave him the first bowl, after it came out from under the broiler with the bubbly cheese gooey and melted on the olive oil toasted french bread. He raved! He said it was the best French Onion Soup he had ever had, and not just everyone's favorite bread and cheese topping part. He was actually raving about the flavor of the soup itself. So kudos to you Julia! Hopefully future recipes I try from these books will be just as delectable.
Profile Image for Freda Mans-Labianca.
1,293 reviews105 followers
March 9, 2010
How can you judge a book like this one, one who is so critically acclaimed?! You really don't. You just judge what your personal experience was.
My experience was easier than I thought. I woke this morning with the idea, a soup recipe would take hours, because it's French and Julia Child's, but it didn't. We were eating at 4:30 pm. That is an early supper, but it was a good one.
Honestly as I was making the soup, I actually wondered if I would like it when it finished. I was becoming turned off, but when I put the Pistou in, my heavens!! The aroma was something I can't describe. I was instantly marved and had to eat!
I am so glad I picked this soup as my first time with Julia... well... her book anyways. She's like a kitchen goddess to me. Don't laugh!
Obviously I am bias involving this book and can only recommend the begeezus out of it. Get it! Do it! Just don't do Aspic!
Profile Image for Amanda Nuchols.
107 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2011
My husband bought me this book for Valentine's Day because we had recently watched "Julie and Julia" and I had mentioned how I couldn't believe that after all these years of cooking, I hadn't yet acquired this book.
It's popularity since the movie might seem a little cliche, but really, this is the most thorough, easy-to-understand, and excellent cookbook I have ever owned. The only comparable book is "Good Housekeeping's Illustrated Cookbook," which I also own and use regularly.
Although this book is focused on French cuisine, it also includes a timeless and useful walk-through of everything from how to hold a knife to how to poach an egg. Ms. Child explains how everything works together and how recipes can be modified in a simple manner so that learning to cook is not simply a process of following directions, but rather a process of learning what ingredients work together and why.
Really, this book is a must for anyone who enjoys cooking and wants to improve their knowledge, technique and repertoire in the kitchen.
P.S.: The best advice of all: Spend the money on a good knife.
6 reviews2 followers
November 28, 2014

• Best: best recipe-writing ever! Most cookbooks put the ingredients list on top and the method (the steps) below. But Julia puts them side by side: each step has its own ingredients list! First step needs a,b,c,d. Next step needs e,f,g,h. and so on. Beside saving space, this is the fastest way if you aim to UNDERSTAND the recipe! (I usually read the recipes a few times to understand what will happen, instead of memorising each step) If there are 2 batches of sugar, you can't go wrong in adding in which batch for this particular step.
This meticulous attention to detail is what I respect most. It makes a very comfortable reading and making dish!
• Broad range of french foods covered. From fish to cakes! From hors d'œuvre to desserts. Feels like I don't need to buy anymore french cookbooks. You will find some pastries: pâte brisée, pate a choux, etc.
• So many illustrations! Even making omelette is shown with illustration! Even how to spoon flour has its own illustration!
• Most recipes are indeed DELICIOUS! Seriously, it's real good! Actually at first I doubted that her desserts would be delish, but once I tried her Chocolate Mousse... omg! I am pretty sure this is one of the best cookbooks ever written! Mostly scrumptious recipes!
• She never forgets to give a sufficient background on the topic, on each chapter. And never leaves out important tips.
• She usually starts with the master recipe and follows with variations.

• Definitely one of the best cookbooks to learn cooking. If you just begin to love cooking and want to learn cooking, this is the book you must buy! And yes I encourage you to learn french cooking first. Why? Because french is the fundamental of western cooking! If you master the basic, you can do anything! And this book arranges so many dishes to basic categories, such as soup, sauces, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, vegetables, desserts and cakes, and so on. Thus, makes this perfect for a student, or someone with no background in cooking.
Profile Image for Susan Branch.
Author 108 books999 followers
March 6, 2016
This is how I learned to cook, by going through this masterpiece of a book page by page, hunting for the ingredients and making Julia's delicious recipes. Her book was my foundation for the art of cooking and part of the inspiration when I wrote my own cookbooks. I wonder if Julia, in heaven, can hear the echoes of the laughter at the millions of dinner parties she inspired. She taught me and all my friends to cook. She changed the world and she is loved. If you ever need a short (not long enough), loving and charming look at her delicious life and how she came to write her first book, watch the movie JULIE AND JULIA. A+ for this book (and the movie).
Profile Image for Ted.
515 reviews744 followers
January 19, 2018
This classic cookbook has been a mainstay for my wife and I for over forty almost fifty years now. Our copy has clear tape holding the hard covers together, and a loose page (315) indicates the recipe it has been open to most often over the years: Boeuf Bourguignon. This incredible stew has probably been eaten in our household at least once per annum since the first year we had the cookbook.

It's true that the classic French cooking of the mid-twentieth century is somewhat dated nowadays, primarily because it is over-generous with the use of fats. More emphasis on healthier diets relegates this sort of cuisine to special occasions for many folks, including us. But for those special occasions, few cookbooks offer the variety of delights to be found in Julia's masterpiece.
Profile Image for Aaron.
21 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2012
Indispensable. Sits quite happily on my kitchen countertop, and is referenced often. If you have any interesting in cooking, MTAOFC is a must. Not even so much for the recipes- of course, for the recipes- they are delicious and Julia is exact and did I mention they are delicious?- BUT each recipe is an event. The beautiful thing about this cookbook (and it's recipes) is that, like good food, it does not appear in a vacuum- there is the lore of Julia, the lore of the recipes, Julia's colorful instructions, the common-sense solutions she offers (that, in the early 21st century, are in some cases woefully outdated and in others the perfect tip). It is readily apparent that Julia believes cooking should be an experience to share, and I believe her cookbook is one that should be shared as well.
Profile Image for Amanda.
62 reviews7 followers
June 27, 2012
I have wanted a copy of this book for the last decade or so, ever since I had to start cooking for myself. Part of it is the way I perceive French cooking--fresh, fancy, and impressive--and part of it is the warmth of Julia Child, whose PBS show I got hooked on during the many years I couldn't afford cable. I mentioned this off-hand to my boyfriend once when we were in Williams-Sonoma, and he surprised me with a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking last night for my birthday. (For the record, I suppressed the urge to tackle him in the restaurant and hug him until my arms fell off. Go me!)

I was up way too late last night reading it, and while I've yet to cook from it, I can tell you that I already know following these recipes is going to be an Experience. I've been cooking long enough now to have developed certain instincts about recipes, and these are almost impossibly great. They're straightforward, detailed without being overwritten, and the friendly tone of the book made me feel like I was reading a recipe written just for me by an especially good friend. (Or three especially good friends.) Needless to say, I cannot WAIT to get into the kitchen with this beauty.
421 reviews167 followers
July 30, 2014
I'm a novice cookbook reader and more or less a novice cook, though I know food well. Actually, by the horrendous standards of North American home kitchens, I'm a highly experienced and profoundly skilled home cook. But I stress the horrendous standards part. I also don't really want to use Goodreads to rate cookbooks because there's just something odd about giving any cookbook five stars and having it sit there next to fucking Hamlet like it's of the same standard. But I did read these things.

So the thing I've discovered about cookbooks is that they can be a joy to read, which you wouldn't expect, considering how many of them consist largely of instructions. I started on this cookbook craze to prepare myself for a future of financial responsibility, ethical purchasing of animal products (pretty sure most cheaper restaurants don't give a shit about where their meat and dairy and fat comes from), and actually developing the skills to make more than a handful of dishes. I'm now convinced that this is important shit. It's been a pleasant reprieve from working hard for really the first time in my life to prepare myself financially for a plunge into the poverty-ridden realm of academia. But I digress.

This thing is really fucking beautiful. The first volume. The second volume probably is, but it seems to involve a lot of pastry and baking &c., which rarely works out for me and really just doesn't interest me as much. this is not, for me, up to the standards of some other cookbooks, which manage to instruct and please the reader simultaneously. Julia Child is a bit dull, voice-wise, but she teaches you how to make this stuff and it's really good. So the book's really good, in the end. It has very little to do with the whole nouvelle cuisine thing or anything that came later I guess, and is deeply unsexy as a result, but this really doesn't matter because who the fuck is preparing that shit at home anyway.

Highlights (either recipes I prepared or recipes I just perceive as beautiful):
Fish Filets Poached in White Wine
Roast Squab Chickens with Chicken Liver Canapés and Mushrooms
Chicken Simmered with Cream and Onions
Breast of Chicken with Cream
Chicken Breasts Sautéed in Butter
Pan-broiled Steak, with Shallot and White Wine Sauce
Pepper Steak with Brandy Sauce
Braised Filet of Beef Stuffed with Foie Gras and Truffles
Beef Bourguignon
Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes
Brown Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Sauteed Calf's Liver [w/Cream and Mustard Sauce] (this and the next one are, along with some Lebanese recipes for lamb or sheep liver, the best I've found on the subject of cooking or preparing mammalian liver)
Calf's liver with Mustard, Herbs, and Bread Crumbs
Braised Sweetbreads with Brown Mushroom Sauce
Orange Spongecake

The muscle-and-organ-meat-heavy nature of this list is not due to my attitude regarding vegetables. I encourage the use of vegetables and fruits and grains in food. The French just happen to do organs and meat a lot better than they do most vegetable dishes, which largely serve best as accompaniments in the traditional French culinary world.

By the way, the general shittiness of European vegetarian dishes, as main courses, is probably why vegan and vegetarian restaurants are largely pretty vile in North America. I might be deeply wrong on this. Still, I'm pretty sure that Indian and Asian and Middle Eastern and North African cuisines do this stuff a whole hell of a lot better.

Oh, and traditional European desserts are also pretty bleh in comparison to the above-mentioned cuisines, excepting that orange spongecake.
Profile Image for MaryBeth.
69 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2010
I have had this cookbook on my to try list for some time, but always seemed a bit intimidated by it. However, I read my Life in France by the author, and realized it was a how to book (though some recipes are more complicated than others). Anyway, this book is a true classic, a first in its field. The first recipe I tried was her roast chicken. I've made many a roast chicken in my time, but this was delicious. Next up is one of her soups (maybe the garlic one she mentioned in the book). I love the fact that she saw a need for a real cookbook, using whole foods, which explains everything, so everyone from a beginner to the advanced cook can benefit. I remember watching my mom watch The French Chef---and have recently watched a few episodes on dvd myself. God bless you Julia, and thank you.
Profile Image for Linda.
851 reviews32 followers
February 16, 2009
My first Julia Child cookbook - it has a "Bon Appetit! Love Aunt Aldean 1973" inscription on the front page. Lots of opportunities to reminisce and laugh with this cookbook. I'm sure my husband wondered what he had gotten himself into with my (ad)ventures into the world of French cuisine, but he stuck by me anyway. The cover is extremely tattered, the pages are falling out - a sure sign that it's a treasure. Alright, I just finished flipping 50+ crepes for tomorrow's 7th and 8th grade French classes (we'll have cherry filling of course, President's Day you know)and it is past midnight so ... no more reminiscing.
Profile Image for Laurel.
171 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2015
I love to cook, but this book might be the death of me. It's worth reading because Julia Child is a master of efficiency. She's not a purist, and I love that. There's a lot to learn from her. For example, I've wondered why American croissants are nothing like French croissants. No comparison. Child explains that French butter is not a new, sweet cream, but a nutty, aged cream, and that French flour is not the same, either. Because EVERYTHING (no exaggeration) in French cooking begins with butter, nothing here is going to taste authentically French. She gives substitutions wherever possible. But it's still BUTTER. Yum, but my gallbladderless digestive system says Non.
April 12, 2008
I'm curretly revisiting this one. I had to put it away for a few months due to the weight gain from round one with Julia...butter anyone? This book made me realize how much I love cooking. She breaks the recipes down so anyone can understand. I've made several dishes from the book now and the recipes are hard to truly screw up. Julia Child makes it possible for anyone to feel like a culinary star. Screw Rachael Ray!. Julia will always be the queen. She's like the Oprah of the culinary arts. P.S. This books is not for vegetarians and if you're a vegan...put the book down and walk away.
Profile Image for Megan.
311 reviews15 followers
June 10, 2009
I learned it is impossible to read a Julia Child book without hearing her voice in your head.
Actually, I was thinking of cooking every recipe in this book over the course of a year and blog about it, then get a book deal. Then I could get Nora Ephron to write the screenplay for a movie about my book and get Amy Adams and Meryl Streep to star in it. Apparently that has been done. So I will cook every recipe in Nora Ephron's book "Heartburn" and blog about that instead. Take that!
Profile Image for Mich Must Read.
197 reviews14 followers
August 21, 2019
This is not really a book to "finish". I will come back to this over and over. Its excellent. I made mushroom soup, french onion soup, and cassoulet. By the by, if you look it up on you tube there is an entire series that corresponds to these recipes that she did....as well as the Julia Child snl skit with Dan Akroid and an Epic Rap Battles skit. Yeah...I might have gone down a couple of youtube rabbit holes with this one.
Profile Image for Helana Brigman.
Author 1 book4 followers
March 1, 2013
The Good-Humored, Encouraging Teacher–Honestly, I don’t know how Julia does it. She takes some extraordinarily complicated recipes and explains them with such precision and accuracy, that you cannot help but appreciate every word. In between the instructions, Julia’s authorial voice emerges in each of her recipes. She’s humorous, light-hearted, and always positive. Julia ensures that if she can a pastry from scratch, certainly you, with the better kitchen appliances and ingredients can too. It’s almost as if you can sense her teacherly/cheery self telling you that yes, you are insane for wishing to debone that duck, but it’s going to be okay. Have a glass of wine with me. - See more at: http://www.clearlydeliciousfoodblog.c...

Extensive, Thorough Instructions and Illustrations–Let’s be honest, Julia really has taught me 90% of what I know about French cooking. I discovered linguistic blunders and poultry techniques with her Pâté de Canard en Croûte and discovered my favorite Provincial French Vegetable dish with her Ratatouille. In each recipe, she supplies the most thorough of explanations on how to peel a tomato, make a pate stuffing for a duck, or make your own pastry. Along with each instruction exists an illustration from the 60s publication that is still reprinted today. Images are detailed and thorough corresponding with the text directly above or below it. - See more at: http://www.clearlydeliciousfoodblog.c...
Profile Image for Ghost of the Library.
346 reviews67 followers
June 11, 2017
I am nowhere near finished with this beauty but since it belongs to the library and not me, well i have to send it back :(

This is a seriously amazing cookbook!
A genuine testament to the talent and skill of its authors that after all these years it remains relevant, this bible of cookbooks is of a somewhat daunting size but oh my the secrets it hides within....yum!

Everything is wonderfully well explained and amazingly simple to follow even without any kind of visual aid (kill me, i like a cookbook with pretty pictures!) and, surprisingly, after all these years from its original publication!

I have to say i am a now a fan of the presentation method for the recipes - ingredients and instructions side by side...makes life and concentration a lot easier!

i tried a few recipes - French Onion Soup, Omelettes (make me a proper omelette and i´m yours!), Bouillabaisse, Quiche aux Endives, Rôti de Porc, among others - and i can safely say, having grown up with some of these dishes and a lot of the others within these pages...this is the real deal! The house smelled amazing, everyone wanted seconds and i need to ask santa for this baby and its sequel as my Christmas present!

Julia Child Ma´am...you the best! :)

Enjoy it, try...impossible btw...not to drool too much!
Happy Cooking!
Profile Image for Kelly.
307 reviews31 followers
September 14, 2009
Checklist for Impressing New In-Laws:
1. Plenty of face smoothing make-up (that is, if they are the "look don't touch" types)
2. Wear your best (depending on if your father-in-law-to-be is a pervert or not, wear something slimming and fantastic)
3. NO: hemming, hawing, donkey calling. Laugh cutesy.
4. Whatever you do, don't forget the garlic bread...AND..
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. There never was a better dead person to confer to about making your stiff-lipped, uptight in-laws happy.

Bottom Line?
No one could write a more beautiful book about food and what the heck we wives should do with it than Child.
Profile Image for Rachel.
141 reviews55 followers
September 27, 2007
I have never done a single recipe from this book because it makes everything sound really, really difficult. Still, it's fun to read if you like butter as much as I do. I tend to read it while I am eating something I have made from a more accessible, less cholesteroly cookery author such as Debbie Madison. A while ago I read Julia's omelet instructions and was, like, "Oh dear! I've been doing everything wrong for all this time!" And then I never made an omelet again.
Profile Image for Jean Grant.
Author 7 books17 followers
December 23, 2011
I got the first volume of this book (now only 1 volume in this edition)about 30 years ago. My old book was so besplattered I got myself a new one. The excuse was to get my hands on the superb recipe for Orange Bavarian Cream. Don't get scared off by the fact that often it takes more than a page for a recipe. It's carefully written. Everthing--and I do mean everything--is delicious. I haven't read every single page, but most.
Profile Image for Eric Wilson.
5 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2018
What's not to love about the great Julia Child?! Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a must read! And it has a permanent place on my bookshelf at home, right along with so many other cookbooks that I own! I loved this one. It's a great reference.
Profile Image for Nicole.
44 reviews3 followers
August 22, 2017
I enjoyed the hell out of this cookbook...to the tune of 20lbs. Reader beware.
PS: I highly recommend the chicken with port and cream.
Profile Image for Zack  Johnson .
14 reviews
March 9, 2019
The foie gras was devilish and exciting but the salmon had a Dickensian dryness comparable only to the wet soot off the tattered gloves of a common cockney chimney sweep. Also, she can't pair wine with an amuse bouche to save her ass or her apron. Really good book and I'd recommend it to both my closest lifelong friend or most hated enemy.
Profile Image for Laima.
4 reviews
February 19, 2021
The best recipe book I have ever had! No competition for Julia Child :) Recipes are so precise and tested. You can trust this book.
Profile Image for Melissa.
106 reviews38 followers
May 16, 2022
It's a classic that breaks down French cooking to its basica.
Profile Image for Sarah.
357 reviews35 followers
February 17, 2019
My grandmother purchased this book in 1966, so not quite a first edition, but the cover looked like this one. You would think with a 700 page book written in the 1950's with no pictures (a few pencil sketches), it would be obsolete. Not so, my ambitious culinary friends! It is surprisingly accessible. I looked up Bearnaise sauce which I had recently butchered, and yep, there it was and all the ways I could have fixed it.

Julia says that the French don't have so many recipes but they have perfected the basics. (I have read the same thing about their clothing.) The largest difference I found was that Julia was adamant about buying fresh chicken, fresh fish, fresh everything. As a land locked 21st century resident, this is almost impossible to do, and I have to rely on regulation labels and supermarket expiration dates.

If you aren't going to perfect each and every recipe, it is still a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Sherrel Wiser.
21 reviews9 followers
September 25, 2009
After watching the move Julie and Julia with my daughter, we decided to duplicate the premise of the movie, purchase the book, and cook through it. Well, I ordered the book online and read it over the weekend. I have tabs on all the recipes we are going to do over the next year. So far, we have finished soups and sauces. My husband, is very supportive! If we mess up, we just smile, and using our best Julia Child's voice say "Neeever apologize for trying!"
Profile Image for Sarah MacLean.
Author 31 books13.3k followers
June 20, 2010
Not just the creme de la creme of cookbooks, but also a great resource...Julia takes you through the basics--how to stock your kitchen, how to chop a mushroom, how to make a quiche, how to roast a chicken, etc. The book is a staple for a dinner party...or to answer a random question that comes up about food.

It's also well written and one of the few cookbooks that begs for you to sit down and read.
Profile Image for Megan.
69 reviews
June 11, 2012
I did the whole cooking my way through this during a period of uncertainty around my employment, ten years before the blog came out, so I guess that's a thing. This is also an amazing manual for an amateur chef. It is not fancy - no glossy photos of food - but if you read it cover to cover, you'll be a much better cook. I didn't bother making the aspics, but the foundations for many of my staple recipes started here. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Aloha.
133 reviews365 followers
May 6, 2010
I don't want to disparage the grand dame of cooking, but I hated all the recipes I've tried from her vol1 & 2 books. Maybe because I'm used to the nouveau fusion cuisine of today, but all of the recipes are too heavy handed for my taste. I enjoyed her recent books better. I'm glad Julie Powell found success with Julia's cookbooks, I certainly didn't.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 549 reviews

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