A Toast to Julia Child

JuliaAfter finally having an opportunity to see Julie & Julia, we had to join others who are talking about what the legendary Julia Child meant to them as they learned their way around the kitchen.  Many years ago, a friend in Chapel Hill was the catalyst needed to move a novice cook from The Joy of Cooking to Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  The friend, who convinced this beginner that anyone who could read could make crepes,  initiated a shopping trip in search of the perfect crepe pan.  Determined to find a pan that would do the job, but at the lowest possible price point, we headed to a large antique (or was that junk) store in Carrboro, just outside Chapel Hill.  For a mere $.35, a used pan (as seen in the photo, very well used, and still in service today) was purchased to accompany a pristine copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Following the directions precisely, since it was terrifying enough to be attempting something so exotic, the ingredients for the crepe batter were assembled.  For those of you who own the cookbook, you will note that the batter recipe for savory crepes dictates that the ingredients are put into a blender in the exact order indicated.  At no point is blender size mentioned, so who knew to even think about volume vs blender size?  The ingredients were measured, and into the blender they went.  The top went on, and the “on” button was pressed.  At that point, crepe batter began to quickly ooze out the top of the blender, and down the sides of the jar.  What was a beginner, alone in the kitchen, to do at that point?  Well, the only logical response was to mix the batter thoroughly, even while the excess continued to flow out of the blender, and use what remained in the blender jar to make crepes.  At that point, it was a note to self – “make 1/2 of recipe” which is still quite visible on the splattered page of a cookbook that has been enjoyed repeatedly over many years.

MasteringThe crepes were as delicious as anticipated, and since that first attempt, crepes have appeared on our table on numerous occasions.  As you can see, our copy of Mastering the Art, as it’s known here, has been lovingly used for a very long time.  From strawberry tarts to roast chicken to French onion soup and beyond, Julia Child never disappoints.  Fortunately, Meryl Streep who appears as Julia in Julie & Julia does not disappoint, either.  For those of us who enjoyed watching Ms. Child on PBS all those years ago, this is a step back in time.  If you miss the movie during it’s theater run, please plan to enjoy the DVD when it becomes available.  And for a major hit of nostalgia, rent some of the original French Chef television shows.  They are still just as informative and instructional as when they first appeared, and not long ago, enabled one of us to become an ace omelet maker.

While we miss Julia Child, and her trilling voice, we will continue to enjoy the many things we learned as a result of her cooking programs, and her cookbooks.  As Ms. Child said, “Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.