And Then the Circle Will Be Complete
On Simca's Cuisine
Lately, for obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a really good cookbook, especially when its specific goal is to transmit something essential about a culture’s or country’s cuisine. I recently read this article by Mayukh Sen about Simone Beck, Julia Child’s French co-author, and found it so interesting. To sum it up briefly—though I would love it if you read it and let me know your thoughts—despite having co-authored the seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Child, Simone Beck came to be seen by American food media as somewhat of a loser, a dour, sour sidekick to the bombastic Julia Child, who quickly blew past her in terms of celebrity, success and appeal. In the article, Sen attempts to flesh out Simone’s biography and makes the argument that rather than feeling perpetually like a second fiddle, perhaps Beck ended up achieving precisely what was best suited to her.
One of the things that stuck with me and that I kept chewing on long after reading the piece was that it seemed like what some Americans found “problematic” about Simone Beck was her rigidity and devotion to her country’s strict rules around food preparation and French food culture, in other words her unyielding Frenchness.