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Julia Child--In Memoriam


adegiulio
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We were on vacation, in a big Buick rental car headed down route 81 between Ithaca and Binghamton on the way down to catch our flight back to France when I listened to her reading a poem after the announcement that she'd passed away. I cried. It wasn't because I felt sad, really. In fact, the reason was immensely complex. We were listening to public radio, for one, which had been sort of a background noise at our house when I was growing up, and I was home, the first real visit since coming to France. A lot of things have happened since that time, and we were home visiting, so many other watershed moments were occurring; it was just the thing that made me open up and cry.

When I was 21, my mother gave me her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I which had been given to her. I remember cooking from it from time to time in the years that followed, mostly when I was feeling ambitious. It wasn't until I met my husband that I really began to take French cooking seriously, to try and please him at first. By the time we'd been through our first year, I had done quenelles and bœuf bourguignon, a few of those dishes that someone might consider stereotypically French.

When we moved to France two weeks after our wedding, we had things shipped, and we would not see any of our belongings until 4 months later. The two books I packed in my suitcase were Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I and Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol II, the second of which I had picked up at a used bookstore in L.A. I threw them into the suitcase on a whim. I don't remember any real reason behind the choice to pack only those two particular cookbooks (and a copy of wine spectator - the one that covers Francis Ford Coppola's vineyard) as my only reading material for the next several months, nor did I have any idea what the future held; I just followed the urge. From what I remember we were expecting to receive our things rather quickly and only later discovered how long it was going to take.

I spoke no French, and we were really struggling to get by, financially. The move and our decision to ship everything had cleaned us out completely. We lived in an empty apartment except for some cutlery, the gas stove, frigo, and the bed for several months. At first we had to get by on about 50 francs a week for food. At the time (and wow it wasn't that long ago), I was going at the end of the market and cruising the stalls in order to get whatever they were selling off cheap to get rid of, and even then I was ruthlessly driving the hard bargains to get food on the table. I was called "DUR DUR DUR" more times that I could count.

Of course these were local products and as we went through the seasons, only those plentiful and cheap. As the weeks rolled through autumn, it was always something different. I would bring whatever it was home, look it up in the book wherin it miraculously appeared, and cook it according to her method. I know it sounds pathetic, but on most days, this was my only activity. A lot of things out in the city took a whole lot of energy to understand as I mutely manoeuvred without guidance and in a haze of being completely overwhelmed in a place that was beautiful and hard, and the days were full of exhausting battles to negotiate a sense of self worth in the midst of it all. It was the first time in my adult life I wasn't working, which made things rather surreal as I groped for meaning. During those hard months I shamelessly clung to these two tattered volumes and my time in the kitchen with them as a life line; a thread from a feeling of helpless solitude during the day into the evenings of warmth and fulfilment, seeing the pleasure on my husband's face when he came home, sensing his respect and appreciation for what was coming to the table as I listened to his stories and told him mine.

Pretty soon once his pay checks were rolling in and things got a little easier, we'd find something at the market and say "what would Julia do with this?" Although my husband had many cookbooks in French, her recipes always trumped the others, something we both always agreed on. I didn't think much about the wonderful fact that everything I got at the market was miraculously featured in her book in one way or another. I understand that now it's because she didn't just write a cookbook, but a real applicable reference to French cooking that applies not only to technique but also to the foods that are the mainstay in this country through the seasons.

The technique is instinct now. I have gone on to read Juila's words between the lines of many French recipes, lessons that came during that time. What she has taught me has enriched my understanding and improved everything coming from my kitchen.

Living so far away, it's easy to preserve all kinds of mythical qualities about home deep inside of us. We think things will never change. One day we go home after having been away for a long time and we realize that reality has continued despite our clinging to and reliving the memories of people and places time and again. We realize that these people and places do change, and the fairy creatures that were our string to savior are sometimes really only mere mortals. It's a hard lesson. I guess that's why I cried. Loic understood, and pulled the car over, and told me so.

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Lucy,

Thank you so much for sharing. It was very moving to read.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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We were on vacation, in a big Buick rental car headed down route 81...

..when the drugs took hold." -Dr. Lucy Thomas, Fear and Loathing in France

An excellent post, bleudauvergne. (As so often.)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Today's NY Times printed readers' letters related to Julia's passing. Once again, I found myself tearing up.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Forwarded by permission from a friend of mine who is a retired

writer for the Washington Post. I thought those here might enjoy it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

> It  is to celebrate, not to mourn. She was with us a long, long time.

>

> Reporters would kill for a chance to do Julia on one of her tours,

> because she was a great interview. She enjoyed life hugely, and while

> you were with her so did you. She had enormous dignity but there was

> absolutely no pretense or arrogance in her. She didn't need it. She

> always got good press, partly because she was a good person but mainly,

> I think, because her personality was as powerful as it was genial. She

> projected an aura of good feeling that made you glad to be with her, and

> it would expand to fill a kitchen, a studio, a banquet hall or an

> auditorium. I have no doubt she could have knocked em dead in Yankee

> Stadium.

>

> I first interviewed her when I was a cub at the tiny Northern Virginia

> Sun; she treated me just the same as she did years later when I

> interviewed her for the Washington Post (and recalled the Sun story,

> about which she had sent me a very nice note). She was friendly,

> focused, patient and as curious about her interviewer as vice-versa. If

> you had a decent angle for your story, she'd pick it up instantly and

> play to it. If your angle was lame, she'd gently but firmly steer you to

> a better one, always fresh, and leave you thinking you'd thought it up

> yourself. My angle for the Sun piece was how she had turned to her

> advantage a height [6-2] and weight [180-odd] that might have made many

> girls awkward and retiring.

>

> "Well, I wasn't very sexy, so I had to be useful," she said. "I couldn't

> be shy because I was too big to hide in corners.  I certainly am clumsy,

> as anyone who watches my show can plainly see. None of this matters,

> compared with good health, good friends and good food."

>

> Bonne nuit, chere Madame. Je vous remercie millefois.

>

> henri

>

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Here is a press release PBS issued today:

America lost a national treasure this past Friday when Julia Child passed away. In immediate response, PBS will be airing the nationwide premiere of the definitive biography of Julia, Julia! America's Favorite Chef, this Wednesday night, August 18, at 8 p.m. in most markets. (The program was originally scheduled to air in early 2005.) Check local listings for your area's air date and time.

The core of this film is a never-before seen interview with Julia, filmed in her kitchen in November 2001, right before it was moved to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institute. Also featured are previously unseen photographs from the archive of Julia's late husband, Paul Child.

In addition, many culinary luminaries appear in the program, including Ruth Reichl, editor in chief, Gourmet; Laura Shapiro, author of Something from the Oven; Judith Jones, Julia's close friend and editor at Knopf; Jacques Pépin, Julia's co-host in more recent years; and Boston chefs Gordon Hamersley, Jasper White, and Jody Adams.

Julia! America's Favorite Chef will be offered to all PBS stations nationwide, but it is the decision of each individual station to interrupt their usual schedule and air the program or not. Please contact your local PBS station to confirm their decision to broadcast the film. Some confirmed markets thus far are Atlanta, Ga., Boston, Mass., Chicago, Ill., Hartford and New Haven, Conn., Honolulu, Hawaii, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, Calif., Minneapolis St. Paul, Minn., New York, N.Y., Philadelphia, Pa., Phoenix, Ariz., Portland, Ore., San Antonio, Texas, Tampa St. Petersburg Sarasota, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

We would sincerely appreciate your help in spreading the word about this unexpected broadcast as widely as possible over the next few days. We hope that millions of viewers will honor her memory this week by watching the story of her remarkable life. A brief press release follows.

Best,

Robin Hessman

THIRTEEN/WNET NEW YORK'S AMERICAN MASTERS PAYS

HOMAGE TO JULIA CHILD IN JULIA! AMERICA'S

FAVORITE CHEF AIRING WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, AT 8

P.M. ON PBS

(New York, N.Y..August 16, 2004) "My point of view was if I can do it, you can do it – and here's how to do it!" So says Julia Child, who single-handedly changed the way Americans cook, eat and think about food. In January 1963, Boston public television station WGBH began airing half-hour episodes of The French Chef. Literally peppering her recipes with humor, Child received rave reviews for her homey style, her no-nonsense attitude and the theatrics that came naturally. Her television series and her best-selling cookbooks revolutionized America's relationship with food.

Produced and written by Marilyn Mellowes, narrated by Michael Murphy, co-produced by Robin Hessman, and edited by Bernie Schneider, Julia! America's Favorite Chef premieres Wednesday, August 18, 2004, at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The one-hour documentary airs as part of AMERICAN MASTERS, the Peabody Award-winning series that was recently nominated for the 2004 Emmy for "Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series," a category the series has won four times in the past five years.

Julia! America's Favorite Chef tells two completely intertwined love stories - Julia's love for her husband, Paul Child, and her love for the food to which he introduced her. Beginning with Julia McWilliams's birth in 1912 and her upbringing in Pasadena, California, this documentary examines how a woman who had no natural talent for cooking became America's favorite chef.

Susan Lacy is the creator and executive producer of AMERICAN MASTERS. Jac Venza is director of cultural and arts programs at Thirteen/WNET New York. Funding for AMERICAN MASTERS is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, the André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

The PBS Julia Child website can be found here:

http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/

NOTE: On WNET-13 (New York) the American Masters episode on Julia Child is airing on THURSDAY the 19th at 8PM, and Friday, August 20th at 12AM. Check your local PBS listings here:

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Pretty soon once his pay checks were rolling in and things got a little easier, we'd find something at the market and say "what would Julia do with this?"

Yep. That's always been my family's version of WWJD: What would Julia Do? ....with this piece of fish, this chicken, this potato....

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I loved Julia's sense of play. In an interview once (on public radio?) I heard her talk about her years working for the OSS. She began to wonder whether anyone ever bothered reading the memos and reports she typed up, so she decided to find out. In one report, she embedded instructions for folding the report paper to make a paper drinking cup. Nobody commented. On another occasion, she submitted a proposal to change the filing system in the name of efficiency. Under the new system, every document would be filed alphabetically, according to the first letter of the last word of the document.

...

The proposal was approved. :laugh:

Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Today's NY Times printed readers' letters related to Julia's passing.  Once again, I found myself tearing up.

4_9_7.gif

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I loved Julia's sense of play. In an interview once (on public radio?) I heard her talk about her years working for the OSS. She began to wonder whether anyone ever bothered reading the memos and reports she typed up, so she decided to find out. In one report, she embedded instructions for folding the report paper to make a paper drinking cup. Nobody commented. On another occasion, she submitted a proposal to change the filing system in the name of efficiency. Under the new system, every document would be filed alphabetically, according to the first letter of the last word of the document.

...

The proposal was approved. :laugh:

OMG... I had forgotten about that. It was some years ago that I heard that story and I don't remember where. I thought to myself... "What a good idea!" Well, I used it. There are to this day some muck-a-mucks in mega-corp that still live in fear of my writings. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Thanks for posting that. I needed a laugh.

And thank you, Julia. Your effect on me went way beyond the kitchen.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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More on the PBS Julia Child special tonight (and tomorrow, for those of us in the NYC area)

http://apnews1.iwon.com/article/20040818/D84HKFLO1.html

And for those us of who live in the LAME part of Northern California, the only PBS station showing it is out of Sacramento!!!

:angry::angry::angry:

Man, am I ever pissed!

Okay, edited to add that I CALLED our local PBS station (because I was so pissed) and their website has just not been updated. While is it not showing tonight, KCRB out of Rohnert Park is showing it tomorrow night. Can't tell you about the SF stations.

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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More on the PBS Julia Child special tonight (and tomorrow, for those of us in the NYC area)

http://apnews1.iwon.com/article/20040818/D84HKFLO1.html

And for those us of who live in the LAME part of Northern California, the only PBS station showing it is out of Sacramento!!!

:angry::angry::angry:

Man, am I ever pissed!

Yeah. Apparently KQED Channel 9, the San Francisco Bay Area's major PBS provider, cannot interrupt its fascinating Pledge Week infomercials and craputainment ("Peter, Paul and Mary: Carry It On", "Healthy Aging: The Perricone Prescription" -- who watches this rubbish?) to honour one of public television's most staunch supporters. A pox on them.

However, in searching their site for it, I did find this memorial to Julia on the station's cooking page, which also includes a link to eGullet (scroll down).

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Johnny Apple wrote a lovely article in today's NY Times.

We talked politics, we ate well, and we laughed a lot. I remember dinner with a small group late one night at Les Nomades in Chicago, then a private dining club. She asked for a martini, downed the small, perfectly formed cocktail and asked brightly for another. A jolly time was had by all. I remember lunch one Saturday in Providence, at a less than distinguished restaurant, with the chef Thomas Keller, Ann Bramson of Artisan Books and my wife, Betsey. Slightly dismayed by the menu's more elaborate offerings, we ordered a modest white wine, shoals of oysters on the half shell and, to the best of my fading memory, fried clams. Mrs. Child pronounced it "the perfect meal."

Oysters, I was to learn, were among her favorite foods, along with duck, beef and anything chocolate. When Betsey and I visited her in Santa Barbara a year ago, we ate lunch at Lucky's, a steakhouse a few blocks from her retirement bungalow. She ordered a fillet (and probably wished privately that they served pommes Anna, which she adored). For dessert, she insisted we all have the house special, a concoction of vanilla ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces and pecans. Stephanie Hersh, her loyal aide for 16 years, reminded me the other day that Mrs. Child — ever the champion of moderation and foe of abstention — had hers in a smaller glass and called it a "turtlette."

Additionally, Julie Powell contributed her thoughts.

But there is a brave joy peculiar to someone who has found her passion and lives her life in pursuit of it. That joy permeates everything Julia Child touched. Aspics come and go. But her infectious, blissful bravery gives us cooks something more. When hesitating over the notion of making puff pastry from scratch, it is because of Mrs. Child that some of the more insane among us have the courage to answer "What could happen?" with a cheerful chortle, "Why, anything!"

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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In all the articles linked here, and in all my own Googling and seeking and reading and listening to all things Julia, I have not encountered a single word of criticism or dislike. Not one. The more I read and hear, the more there is to love.

What a tremendous gift her life was, and what a loss that she's gone. And thank goodness for the inspiration she gave.

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To get an idea of how many people Julia Child touched -- the new issue of Sports Illustrated has a small obit. Seems she was quite a sportswoman, and a huge Red Sox fan.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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To get an idea of how many people Julia Child touched -- the new issue of Sports Illustrated has a small obit. Seems she was quite a sportswoman, and a huge Red Sox fan.

Scary, when you think the last time the Red Sox were World Champions, Julia was six years old.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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