This coming up week marks the 100th birthday of Julia Child.
I can’t say that I grew up watching her shows. I remember seeing a much older Julia Child. Hunched over, sort of poking and stirring hamburger meat in a pan over a two-burner electric stove.
I grew up watching Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme. They were on local television because well, they were local. I’ve talked about both of these guys before. Also the “Frugal Gourmet” — does anyone remember that guy? I think he got arrested for something unfortunate.
I watched a ton of Emeril Live! and had always dreamed to sit at one of those studio tables where the folks got to try his food. It seemed so decadent. He did it so fast! Not gonna lie, Emeril is the man. The dude employs 1,000s of people and is a hard ass. But this post really isn’t about Emeril, either.
Hannah and I watched “Julie and Julia” when it came out. We snuck in McDonald’s because we were in a hurry and didn’t have time to eat. It was perfect. I know, I know. Sort of a dramatic story with not-so-good-in-real-life ending.
As most people can concur, I love Julia’s spirit. Her ability to think on her feet and to be fiercely involved with food and cooking. She had the daunting task of translating French cooking into English. Not only into English, but trying to get Americans to cook French. You still really can’t get many people to cook this stuff, but I love it.
I rented old videos and watched. I especially love the videos of her and Jacques Pepin cooking together. He’s so solidly French. Cooks with gas heat and has remarkable knife skills — Julia on the other hand stays steady on her electric burner and makes me nervous as she brings the knife down upon a jumbled pile of onions. I wouldn’t dare question the direction of her mind.
So tonight, I — in a last minute decision after a grueling morning at work — decided to make beef bourguignon. It’s not all of Julia’s recipe, but it was a dish they say she loved. That and Coq-au-vin. And things with butter. Which is real food, by the way.
She was an advocate for real food. She brought to my attention, as well as Pepin, the importance of pairing food and drink (wine, in this case.)
She made it. Lots of times imperfectly, but with tons of grace for herself and others. I hope to channel my inner Julia as I dive into this world of food and technique and timing.
Happy Birthday Miss.
Thanks for all the work you put in and for fearlessly leading us into those kitchens with boning knives and as always, a little humility.