Julia Child's 100th Anniversary: What Did She Mean to You?
A True Serious Eater.
The late, seriously great Julia Child, who would have been 100 today (she died eight years ago, in 2004), must be considered a hero to serious eaters everywhere. I say that not as someone who has cooked his way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as Julie Powell did. In fact, I've probably cooked less than half a dozen of Child's recipes. Rather, I say it as someone who admired her from near and far, as someone who followed her passion and fearlessly blazed her own path in the world of food. Her story was is as inspiring as the amazing body of work she amassed in her more than 90 years on this earth.
Nobody took more pleasure in cooking and eating than Julia Child. Every headnote in her cookbooks and every episode of her television programs showed this. And if you've never seen any of those old television shows, check out the scene in Julie and Julia when Meryl Streep, playing Julia, eats Dover Sole Meuniere for the first time and moans with pleasure with every bite. Streep's practically making love to the fish and her husband as she eats.
Here's the way The World radio producer Adeline Sire described that actual moment in Julia's life on the radio:
On November third, 1948, her first day in France, Julia Child took a fateful step. She and her husband had lunch at the restaurant La Couronne in Rouen, Normandy. The lunch included a Sole Meuniere, a Dover sole sautéed in butter. It was apparently a life altering moment. Here's what Julia Child later said about it in the book My Life in France. "It was an epiphany. In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it."
The only time I met Julia Child was the briefest of chance meetings indeed. In the late nineties (I don't remember the exact year) she happened to be right in front of me in the taxi line at the old Delta Boston-NYC shuttle at the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. I did a double-take, not believing I was standing next to one of my heroes. Then I heard her voice, that voice that launched a million cooks, and I knew it was her. I offered to put her bag in the trunk of her taxi. She waved me off with a smile. "I got it," she said and effortlessly lifted her big suitcase into the trunk. Boy, oh boy, did she ever get it, the pleasure of cooking and eating, and as a result everyone who was touched by her got it as well.
So every serious eater should take a moment this evening to raise a glass, even if it's water, and toast the late, great, Julia Child, one of the great serious eaters and cooks of all time.
Here's a recipe for her artichokes with lemon and butter, and many more can be found here and here. Please share your favorite Julia Child recipe or dish or TV moment or memory in the comments section here.