A Cooks Tour: 3 photo books of famous dishes

Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery bus boycott
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

By Diane Stanley
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Julia Child Becomes “French Chef”
By Alex Prud’homme
Illustrated by Sarah Green

Whether the kids know it or not, the plate of food in front of them may not be just food. It can be a source of comfort, a link to their legacy, a teaching moment, a conversation starter, an earthquake ritual, a battle of wills, an expression of love. , a trigger of both fond and dark memories.

Three new illustrative biographies of women in the world of food, who quietly and did not go down in history, built on the premise that food has the power to make our world big more, better and more connected.

The most compelling of these, both narratively and artistically, is Mara Rockliff’s “Sweet Justice” (with work by R. Gregory Christie). It tells the story of Georgia Gilmore, a hero hidden behind the scenes of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

Georgia, a restaurant chef who marches through the pages in a satisfyingly daring canary yellow coat that turns out to be the city’s best meatloaf and sweet potato pie, has boycotted buses for more than a year. a year to protest the arrest of Rosa Park and discrimination in general. , and soon she was at the center of the movement, preparing and selling her famous pies and crispy chicken to raise funds. After testifying at the trial of Martin Luther King, she was fired from her job, but with King’s encouragement, she began cooking from her own kitchen, preparing food to provide provided to the protesters.

“However, Georgia is more than just a place to eat,” the story tells us. “It’s a place to meet, talk and make plans.”

Georgian food isn’t just food for protesters. It is justifiably motivated and as motivating as their rage and their thirst for justice.

Rockliff weaves this idea through her poetic prose: “Spring has come, but the city officials have not moved. Bolstered by Georgia’s sweet potato pie, the boycotts were determined to get off the bus. Summer heats up, frying the pavement like a Georgian pan-sizzling pork chop. The boycotts are still trudging. Autumn passed, with chilly mornings and the comfort of hot rolls from the Georgia oven. The boycotts continue.”

Bigger lesson for kids? The movements are bigger than the headlines; Behind each Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King is an army of Georgia Gilmores. Anyone can be a hero and heroes can come from anywhere. If you’re armed with cupcakes and collages, that’s also a good ticket to the show. (It should be noted that while the food primarily serves as a lens here, it’s nearly impossible not to crave sweet potato pie and crispy chicken by the end of the book.) Christie, a Caldecott honoree , brings stories to life with his stylized art, rendered in rich, saturated colors.

In Diane Stanley’s Alice Waters Cooks Up a Food Revolution (illustrated by Jessie Hartland), children will be delighted to read that the most important food movement of the past half century was launched by one woman. just doing what she loves: cooking and eating, for and with her community. In the story’s no-nonsense opening, a trip to Paris during college transforms the jovial young Alice into a French foodie, reminding her of how she grew up. Go ahead, eat only what’s fresh and seasonal – deliciousness at its peak.

The kids will get a message and a good laugh as they flip from her childhood summer dinner table illustrations showcasing the best of summer produce (“Nothing is picked until ripe, and they eat it that same day”) to fall (“‘Convenience Foods’ – made in the factory, then packaged, frozen or canned. So modern! It’s easy! That’s what America wants!”).

Waters’ awakening is great news for her friends in her hometown of Berkeley (and ultimately the world at large) as it inspired one of the most influential restaurants in history: Chez Panisse. When she opened it in 1971 with a group of hippie friends (collective restaurant experience: zero), Waters was just a lost college graduate trying to make a living and regain a taste of the magic of food. simple soup she ate in Paris (“BEST! SOUP! EVER!”), followed the next morning by a baguette with fresh apricot jam (“BEST! BREAKFAST! EVER!”) .

And by crafting her dishes with local, sustainable ingredients, foods that “enrich the earth instead of depleting and polluting it,” she starts something else: a conversation around the world. around organic agriculture; her national Edible Schoolyard project (where schools use homegrown gardens to teach children about the environment); returning to cooked food with intention and eating it at home with family.

Following her lead, Hartland’s accompanying illustrations provide a slow and pervasive reading experience that’s all the better for discovering their rich, fun, whimsical details – one suitcases covered with travel wallpaper, a plate of fish where the fish looks very interested, a poodle sitting and chatting over the dining room table.

One of the ways Waters immerses herself in French cooking is by watching Julia Child’s breakout PBS show “The French Chef,” so there’s reason the other giant among the crops here is Child himself, a figurative and literal giant – she stands 6 feet 2 inches tall. “Born Hungry,” written by Child’s grandson Alex Prud’homme and illustrated by Sarah Green, chronicles Julia’s life leading up to her blockbuster book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” “Mastering” changed our country’s culinary worldview from cheap and easy to delicious, eventually winning Child the “French Chef” award.

It is interesting to read how she met her beloved husband, Paul Child, while working as a spy for the OSS, and how he introduced her to French food, in Rouen ordering Julia’s oysters, a sandwich dish. grilled meat, freshly baked bread “with perfect butter,” White wine, yogurt, and coffee—which (shocking!) ignited all sorts of fireworks in her fledgling brain.

Colorful and often humorous illustrations – Julia towered above her all-male classmates at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school; Julia dreamed of literal food, a stick of butter and chicken feet twirling around her as she slept.

An author’s note at the end fills her bio with the fame and fortune derived from her television success, explaining in detail how Child was able to shed light on French cuisine seductively for the public – and one can’t help but wish these parts of her life were illustrated as well.

However, Julia’s message, to any child who wants to hear it, is clear: “Good results require a time and care”- for the plate of food in front of you and more.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/books/review/julia-child-alex-prudhomme-alice-waters-georgia-gilmore.html A Cooks Tour: 3 photo books of famous dishes

Fry Electronics Team

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