Julia Child and the Boudin Blanc Problem

It’s no secret that Julia Child is one of my life’s crowning figures. She ignited my passion not just for cooking but also for having fun in the kitchen, for eating with joy and seriousness but not stuffiness. My many adventures in French food were guided by Julia and led me to countless travels and memorable meals.

It would not be a stretch of the truth to say that my admiration of Julia Child extends to the realm of reverence, which in turn prompted not just a double-take but triple- and quadruple- and quintuple-takes yesterday afternoon when I found a flaw in one of her recipes. Not just any recipe, either; this is in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has been in print about as long as I’ve been alive. People make mistakes, of course – even our idols – but between Julia and her co-authors, the editors at Alfred Knopf, and generations of readers of Mastering the Art, I am surprised that no one has commented publicly on this particular situation. A Google search indicates no mention of what I have decided to call “the Boudin Blanc Problem.” I thought briefly that I’d found someone who had discovered this or some other Child-related mistake, but it was a dead end.

(Note: I’m using the 1986 “newly revised edition” of MTA – 17th printing. Maybe the mistake was corrected in later editions, before the Internet exploded as a tool of connectedness.)

A traditional white sausage of veal, pork or chicken, le boudin blanc often includes a panade, a cooked paste of bread and milk that serves as a binder for the meats, fat and onions. I’ve used this recipe more times than I can count and never noticed until now that Ms. Child et al., after explaining how to make the panade, neglect then to say what to do with it.

Drawing on my culinary degree and years of kitchen experience, I decided to combine the panade with the meats before the addition of the egg and egg whites. The sausage came out just fine, but still…