RIPLEY – Brittney Stroupe is taking a semester off from school before heading back to Ole Miss in January to get her master’s degree in teaching.
But she’s not just sitting around the house in Ripley twiddling her thumbs.
She’s mastering the art of French cooking.
A couple of months ago, she saw the movie “Julie and Julia” and like the character Julie, she decided to cook her way through a Julia Child cookbook.
“I thought, well, Julie’s neurotic and I’m kind of neurotic, so I can probably do that,” said Stroupe, 23. “I went to the bookstore and bought ‘The French Chef Cookbook’ and that’s the one I’m trying out.”
So far, Stroupe has made several cream sauces, five Queen of Sheba cakes (Reine de Saba), braised fish, poached chicken, a cheese soufflé, a chocolate custard, risottos, brioche and even Child’s trademark Beef Bourguignonne
“That takes forever to make,” she said. “It was good, but I don’t know if it was worth all the trouble. There’s about a thousand steps in that one.”
Learning to cook the French way has had an unintended side effect for Stroupe.
“I’m trying ballroom dancing classes in Oxford,” she said. “I figure if I can learn French cooking, I can learn ballroom dancing, too.”
Not a marathon girl
Stroupe admitted French cooking is a lot harder than it looks.
“It’s not easy to whip egg whites to a perfect peak,” she said.
But what she did find interesting is that French cooking isn’t as expensive as she first thought.
“You read a recipe and you go to the store and get exactly what you need and you come home and you cook it and you’re done,” she said. “It’s not like going to the grocery store and picking stuff up and then finding it molded in the fridge a week later because you forgot to use it. There’s much less waste.”
Even though Stroupe is preparing French meals four or five times a week for her parents, Joe and Wanda Stroupe, and her brother, Ethan, it’s really French baking that she prefers.
“Meal-making is like running a marathon,” she said. “With baking, you can take your time. Everything is an exact measurement and you know how it’s going to turn out every time – or at least how it’s supposed to.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal