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OP: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle
Regular price $3,800.00

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Alfred A. Knopf, 1961. Hardcover. Very Good Plus with a VG- jacket. First printing.

There are few books that we would ever say need no introduction, but this may very well be one of them.

The authors, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child, met in 1949 and founded l’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes together with the intention of teaching French cooking to American women in Paris. Their successful enterprise inspired a book, which no publisher seemed to want to touch, the assumption being that Americans were not interested in or ready for the rigor of French cuisine.

A direct affront to the era of sterile, pre-packaged convenience foods, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), rather than intimidating home cooks, instead inspired unbridled gourmandism and enthusiastic project cooking. It is emblematic of the mid-century culinary renaissance in the US.

Mastering the Art, in its 60-plus years, has never gone out of print with upwards of 1.5 million copies sold. It launched the illustrious television career of Julia Child, who, in turn, inspired countless other pop cultural adaptations. The first print run was a cautious 5000 copies. 

We are offering here a scarce first printing—distinguishable by the note about the authors at the rear which erroneously states that all three authors graduated from the Cordon Bleu, dated August 1961—in Very Good Plus condition. The jacket, slightly shelfworn and soiled, chipping about the edges, is Very Good Minus. The interior is uncommonly clean for such a beloved book. The front pastedown bears the bookplate of Elizabeth S. Heineman whose presence is otherwise made known only at the coq au vin recipe, which is bookmarked with scrap paper and marked in pencil “very good” twice.

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