Thursday, September 06, 2007

Missing Julia

Back in the 1960's when I was a kid I watched Julia Child's cooking shows all the time. In those days there were only two cooking shows on in the US. The Galloping Gourmet and Julia. I never liked the GG for some reason but I always watched Julia.

It was always Julia's intention to teach people how to cook French food with American ingredients and I can tell you in the 60's there was not nearly as much quality produce available as there is now. I remember a time before whole bean coffee and imported cheeses. So Julia had quite a task getting American produce to taste French.

If nothing else, (and she was much more) she was a pioneer and tireless advocate of French food. French food is hard to cook...properly. It requires attention, understanding of complex cooking techniques and access to a wide variety of fresh ingredients. In those days most Americans usually had a couple of Martinis or Scotchs, then threw a steak on the grill and baked a potato...opened a bottle of half-dead Beaujolais and that was dinner! And it got much worse...I remember going to people's houses and eating meatloaf, boiled carrots and drinking milk (even the adults).

I have no doubt that there are very good sources of recipes for French food in French, but in English Julia's books are still bellwethers and I will always have them in my cookbook library.

I knew and cooked with this woman vicariously for nearly 40 years and she is like a second mother to me. She is solely responsible for planting the seeds that led me to become a chef and develop a deep passion for food.

If there is a Madonna of the American kitchen, it is Julia Child and I miss her very much.


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