My Life in the Kitchen
By Jacques Pépin (Houghton Mifflin Company)
Pépin's memoir draws you in with the very first lines,
where he recounts his stay during prewar France on a nearby
farm. Like in so many cities in Europe food was sparse and
parents sent their kids to local farms to get fattened up
At the hamlet young "Tati" (his pet name) was
impressed at how the farmer's wife heaped porridge (gauges)
right onto the table into hollows carved into the wood.
The farm is also where he milked his first cow and the rich
buttery liquid provided one of the most important lessons
of his life: "food could be much more than mere sustenance.
so it began. Pépin's mother had a number of humble,
bustling kitchens and young Jacques thrived on the heat,
noise and adrenaline there. He knew from the start that
he was destined to be a chef and at the tender of 13 he
set out on a tough, feudal, traditional apprenticeship.
follow his steps through the years, his becoming Charles
de Gaulle's personal chef and later, in America, turning
down a job as John F. Kennedy's White House chef in favor
for cooking for Howard Johnson. He recounts his friendships,
freshly arrived in the land of Manifest Destiny with the
then unknown food aficionados James Beard and Julia Child,
not knowing at the time that they were writing gastronomical
The book is so delightful you cannot put it down, the writing
so charming and vivid, you taste what he tastes whether
cow lungs in wine sauce, braised rabbit or dandelion salad.
He truly deserves his status as culinary icon and we only
wish we could sit down with him for a nice meal of mussels Ravigote (prepared by him, of course), good wine
and just listen to his vivid accounts.
Jacques Pepin Interview
Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way