Saturday, August 15, 2009

Julia Child is my Cooking Goddess

Today is Julia's 97th birthday. You know which Julia I mean, Julia Child. Is there any other Julia?

OK, OK there have been and are other "Julias" that are famous or semi-famous. There is Julia Louis-Dreyfus of SNL and Sienfeld fame. There is Julia Duffy from Newhart and other lesser things. There is Julia Ormond who has stared in many films, regrettably one of them being Legends of the Fall (if you like that movie we will have to agree to disagree). Then there is Julia Roberts of course. But the only "Julia" who matters around here is Julia Child.

When there was just Julia on PBS I was watching, I was learning. Who was that overly exuberant, breathy woman who wielded a meat cleaver with finesse and cooked up a storm? Who chatted on as she was waiting for things to cook, giving us little tidbits of cooking info and laughing in that totally dorky way. Whoever she was I was hooked, pulled in, totally absorbed. She just looked like she was having so much fun you know. There is one episode, I think it is on"Chicken", where, as that peppy opening music comes on you can see her bouncing in time to the music. You just knew that she was fun.

I come from a family where my mom cooked and her mom cooked. It was good "midwestern" food that was simple and for the most part delicious. Sorry mom, you know I love your cooking but the liver, not so good and what can I say about the egg foo yuck young other than gag, gag. I learned to cook basic things from my mom but I really learned to cook from Julia.

Julia taught me that it was OK to mess up, that it happens and that you just go on. That if you mess up there is probably a way to fix it (remember the potato pancake incident). She taught me that it is good to be fearless in the kitchen, to try that new technique. I learned to make a roux, to make a Bearnaise sauce, to cook Monk Fish if I am ever so inclined (it hasn't happened yet). By gum I could de-bone a chicken if I needed to.

Julia taught persistence and a love for the craft of cooking. That good ingredients and the right equipment could produce magic. And when I say the right equipment I do not mean all these kitchen gadgets that have only one purpose. She seemed to use simple equipment that had multiple uses. I try to follow the same rule.

Most of all, Julia Child taught me to love food. To know that good food, cooked well, is good for you. That the way food tastes has a great deal to do with how satisfied you are at the end of the meal. She taught me not to fear butter, to embrace it's lovely creamy taste and the awesome things that it does.

Julia Child is why I do not watch "The Next Food Network Star" or "Iron Chef". If you love those shows then more power to you. But to me, the manic preparation of food with odd combinations and odd ingredients is not cooking. It is grand standing, it is theater, it is not cooking.

I will admit to a fierce love for shows like Man vs Food, Bizzare Foods and Diner, Drive-ins and Dives. But they are not cooking shows either, they are a form of food porn. In fact, most of the shows that you find on Food Network are food porn. They are flashy, they are edited to make everything look mouthwatering and delectible, everything works out just like it is supposed to, they are beautiful but they are not real. In the end they leave you unsatisfied and longing for the real thing. I absolutely love Food Network, I watch it all the time. I just understand what Food Network is.

Just as a disclaimer I have no personal knowledge of porn except for those issues of Playgirl that my nursing school classmate had. They were not mine!!! And she read them for the articles anyways.

So today, go and make yourself Boeuf Bourguignon in honor of Julia. Or if you prefer, make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich as she did, with good cheddar cheese, good bread, all browned in a STICK of butter melted in the pan.

And also, just for humor's sake. Here is Dan Akroyd in his SNL skit. Evidently Julia loved it.

1 comment:

  1. My post today is all about Julie & Julia. It was a fabulous movie for those of us who love to cook and blog!

    I love all food shows. I LOVE Iron Chef. Their creativity is out of this world.


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