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MOLLY O'NEILL vs. JULIA CHILD:To Whom Would You Turn?????

  • j

Julia Child(may she rest in culinary Heaven,as I'm
sure she does)certainly was a true American foodie
icon and absolutely deserves all of the many accolades which she has recieved over her long and fruitful
lifetime.But truth be told,I honestly cannot think of one single recipe of hers which I have felt compelled
to prepare at home.
Molly O'Neill,on the other hand,was,for my money,a
truely indespensable N.Y.Superstar...(all apologies to her brother Paul,but I'm just not a Yankee fan!).Not
only have I saved just about every one of her pages from the Times' Sunday magazine,but I have committed
several dozen to memory and no longer need look them up anymore.
While I miss them both terribly,I really dread not having Molly's assuring guidance in my kitchen every week.Perhaps it was just easier to tear out a page than it was to videotape a show.
Anyone else feel the same sense of loss??And does
anyone know what ever happened to Molly after she left
the Times?Can she still be found at some other venue?
I truely hope she's still alive and cookin!!!!

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  1. I have and enjoy and use her cookbooks, Molly O'Neil's New York Cookbook : From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four-Star Restaurants, as well as A Well-seasoned Appetite : Recipes from an American Kitchen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Coyote

      LOVE that New York cookbook, for recipes and reading....

    2. That's an easy one for me -- I learned to cook through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and certain of her recipes, such as for making omlettes, hollandaise, bechamel, vinagrette, etc., are such standards of my cooking repetoire that I don't even think about them as "recipes" anymore. I'd say Julia any day!

      1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the first cookbook I bought when I went to college in the US many years ago, and I learnt to cook from it. and still love it. I think it's next to impossible for me to say one is better than the other. Julia Child demystified French cooking for Americans. Molly O'Neill explored and documented the foodways of New York - an amazing undertaking. However, I've never made any of her recipes.

        I last saw her on the National Mall in D.C. when New York was one of the programmes in the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival in 2001. I often wonder where she is now.

        1. Julia was primarily interested in bringing traditional and authentic French cooking to American cooks using American ingredients and techniques, not in developing and promoting recipes that would be considered "hers." Along with James Beard she was responsible for creating a revolution in cooking and eating in the United States that has had as much impact on our culture as any other development since the end of the Second World War - including, as one example, the fact that forums such as this one are participated in by so many people. You need only have come of age in the pre-Julia 50's, as I did, to appreciate how much our food world has changed as a result of her.

          Now, I'm sure that Molly O'Neill is (was?) a wonderful person who similarly enriched other people's lives with her contributions, but I'll bet that there are many 'Hounds (like me) who've never heard of her before. I can't imagine that anyone who visits here doesn't have some knowledge of who Julia Child was.

          1. That's easy: Julia in less than a heartbeat!

            I watched Julia's shows on PBS during my formative pre-teen and teenangst years where she used humor mixed with facts to get important ideals across. She demystified the idea that "French" cuisine could only be made by master chefs and that cooking, for one or a family, was as simple as reading a recipe. I first read a well-worn, obviously-used library edition, "The French Chef," in 1976. The cooking bug smacked me hard 'tween my eyes and I knew from that point forward I was "going to be a chef!" My Sainted Mother™ indulged my newfound passion by allowing me to cook most of our meals for the next few years. I used many of Julia's recipes to impress friends and family (a tradition with both my parents' abilities).

            I have collected many of her books and still use them as references when I run into something that requires explaining.

            I enjoyed her banter with all her guests. And I also enjoyed the fact that she wasn't above making mistakes and then keeping it there on the tape (and not on the editors' floor) for the viewer to get a giggle from.

            Yes, it'd clearly be Julia.

            1. As I've pointed out many times here, Julia Child is God. Period.

              Molly O'Neill is alive and well and living in New York, last I heard. And I would have heard if she were no longer with us. I use her recipes, too, and find many of them quite delicious.

              But Julia is God.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tom Steele

                Sorry, Julia was not God, or she'd still be alive... anyway, I much prefer to think of her as the happy, fallible student of life and cooking that she was for so many years. No, I don't use too many of her recipes: she didn't teach me *recipes*, she taught me HOW TO COOK. She taught me techniques, she taught me about how food works when you heat it in different ways...and she was unfailingly cheerful and helpful and useful for a good solid ninety years.

                When I read an interview with her on her 90th birthday, I fell in love all over again when she revealed that she carried in her purse, at all times, a list of every In-N-Out burger stand between San Diego and Santa Barbara. Nope, not God...but a genuine Chowhound!

              2. I have never heard of Molly O'Neill but I doubt anyone could rival Julia. Like many other posters hers were the cookbooks I first started out with and hers are ones that I still refer to when need a refresher on any specific technique. I enjoyed her shows immensely and had the privilege of meeting her and seeing her often when I lived in Cambridge.

                BTW I googled Molly O'Neill and it appears the most active information was a speech she made at Denison in 2003.

                2 Replies
                1. re: foodiex2

                  I found that she is writing for the New Yorker as of 2005 - not necessarily on food.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Books. Molly O'Neill is writing books:
                    American Food Writing: An Anthology: With Classic Recipes (2007)
                    Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball ( 2006)

                2. Julia for ever more. She taught me to COOK, not just follow recipes.

                  1. I found Mastering the Art of French cooking after coming home from Europe and looking for a French Onion Soup recipe that most resembled the one I had in France. It was all Julia and it still is. I love rubbing the croutons with garlic and the addition of Brandy. Fall is in the wind and I am ready.

                    1. Sure I stacked up the tear-outs(and still do) but I started buying Child's(and Simone Beck's)books years ago and still turn to them regularly--far more than I ever did the Times recipes. When I moved last year, I pitched a huge wad of Times recipes, all of 'em stuff I'd never really considered making; those that I'd used and liked I kept but it was a fraction of the archive. I don't miss them, either. Child and Beck are now considered sadly "old school" by fashionistas but guests never reject their dishes.

                      1. According to an interview on Here & Now, MOLLY O'NEILL is vibrantly alive and
                        cookin' --and writing tomes as well. She published a memoir last year, the amazing American Food Writing, an 250-yr anthology earlier this year, AND is now collecting recipes for a national portrait. asking us all to send in our own/family Recipes to e-addy mollyoneill@yahoo.com. I sent mine.

                        1. I do "know" who O'Neill is, but my real if facetious answer was going to be "Molly O'Neill who?"

                          No offense to her or anyone else, but in my mind, there's no possible comparison. I never felt much urge to cook O'Neill's recipes and own only one of her books, that I picked up off a remainder table somewhere along the line (along with about 500 others, to put that in context.)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: MikeG

                            And just to clarify, I'm not a member of the Order of St Julia either. But apart from not being wildly impressed with O'Neill's stuff, I think it's hard to even argue that they're remotely in the same league in terms of "contributions" to home cookery, let along the general field of "cuisine" for lack of a better word. I wouldn't give Alice Waters half so much credit either for that matter, just to grab another iconiic name off the top of my head... (But then I am decidely opinionated if I'm anything, so take this all for what it's worth. :) ).

                            1. re: MikeG

                              Would you expect O'Neill, or Waters for that matter, to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Or to have her kitchen packed up and displayed in the Smithsonian, becoming one of its most popular exhibits? Naaaaahhhhh.
                              O'Neill made me miss Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                We went to the kitchen last year in June, on what is now an annual trip to DC after our Outer Banks vacation.

                                My wife said it was like a hajj to Mecca for me.

                            1. Julia Child without a doubt. But my mother was the "guest of honor" at her first show so I am prejudiced. But I use Molly's New York Cookbook quite often as a reference.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: exvaxman

                                No question. Julia Child. Molly O'Neil is not even in the same league. If it weren't for the "New York" connection, her name wouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence as Julia's. Julia changed the way we think as a nation about cooking, about food, about learning to cook and enjoy everything.