Jessie Hartland is the author of eight picture books for children and a commercial artist whose work can be seen on ceramics and fabric, as well as in advertisements. An avid cook, Jessie traveled to Paris and the French countryside to research this book. Jessie divides her time between a house near the water on Long Island and a loft in lower Manhattan, New York. Her latest book is Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child. Learn more at jessiehartland.com.
Jessie Hartland sat down with the Random House Children’s Group and answered a few of their questions about her new book, Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child. See Jessie’s answers below.
Why a crepe recipe?
On weekend mornings when I was growing up in Washington, D.C., my mother made icky, spongy American pancakes from a boxed mix. They then got drowned in maple-flavored syrup. I hated them!
For my special birthday dinner out, at about age 6, I demanded to be taken to La Nicoise, a French restaurant in Georgetown where the waiters famously careened around on roller skates. It was here I found pancakes I liked: crepes.
The summer before art school started and I left D.C. forever, I worked at a national chain of crepe restaurants called “The Magic Pan”. I wore a cute dirndle and worked in the front of the house making thousands of French pancakes on a bizarre, revolving crepe-cooking contraption. I soon asked to be transferred to the kitchen where I became a cook and whipped up gigantic batches of batter, learning that smoothing-out trick using the strainer.
Did you do any traveling to research this book?
Yes, I went first to Washington, D.C. to see (the outside of) Julia’s house in Georgetown and visit her Cambridge, Mass. kitchen which is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Next I went to France. I rented a Peugeot and tooled around the country, from top to bottom. I visited a fromagerie in Normandy, a confesserie in Chartres, a nougat factory in Montilimar and went deep-sea fishing off Brittany. I spent some time in Paris and shopped at Dehillerin, the cookware store Julia frequented. The FOOD! I gorged on soupe au pistou, moules frites, bouillabaisse and ile flotante. I hit some art hot-spots, too: Fondation Maeght, Matisse chapel, Picasso Museum-Antibes, and the Cocteau chapel in Villes-Franches. I spent a morning at the famous farmer’s market in Nice and then drove up into the hills to Plascassier, the tiny town in Provence where Julia and Paul had a house. Très belle!
Check out the crepe recipe from Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child below!