Julia Child ~ Fond Memories of an Extraordinary Woman

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Julia Child 1985

Have you ever had an experience where your past comes rushing back at you and you are flooded with memories of truly special moments?

I had that experience on Saturday night when I went to see the movie Julie and Julia.  It was hard to concentrate and soak it in as I kept thinking about the time I met Julia Child in 1985.  It was at the annual convention for the International Association of Cooking Schools, (now called the International Association of Culinary Professionals.) She gave a cooking demonstration on making pastry and La Tarte Tatin. We also got to see the taping of a TV show….she was the star, of course. I was in awe of her expertise and style.  I even got her autograph….I’ve never been a groupie….but, thinking back, I guess I really was.  After the movie, I went to the garage and sorted through some dusty boxes of memorabilia to share these pictures with you. Oh…happy memories!

Preparing for a demo

Preparing for a demo

I had all of her cookbooks including Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 and 2, From Julia Child’s Kitchen, The French Chef Cookbook, and others. When I had my cooking school I simply could not learn enough about food, cooking techniques, kitchen gizmos, and serious equipment like chef’s knives, food processors, rolling pins, and using the right saucepan. All through the movie, I not only identified with Julie but I had flashbacks of my enthusiasm every time The French Chef appeared on television and I was glued to the screen making mental notes of how Julia “did it.”

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Filming a show

I didn’t write about my experiences, the way Julie did, but I made countless dishes from Julia’s cookbooks. My family and friends had the same “yum…that is so delicious!” response to her recipes.  I, too, felt like Julia was one of my friends….her influence, inspiration, and encouragement through her writings and teaching contributed to my growth not only as a cook but as a cooking school teacher. I think Julia would have been very impressed with Julie’s efforts and determination.  Thanks to Julie Powell for writing her blog, http://juliepowell.blogspot.com/ and book and to Nora Ephron for creating the movie as they prompted me to think about a special time in my life and some of the wonderful people who inspired me..

In my cooking classes, I would often refer to Julia Child and other well known chefs and cooking teachers and encourage my students to buy their cookbooks, try new recipes, and broaden their cooking horizons.

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from my cooking school memories & recipe collection

It’s impressive that Julie Powell not only tried so many of Julia’s recipes but blogged so openly and honestly about her experiences.  It was so funny watching her tasting an egg for the first time….and… she liked it.  I can identify with her trepidation at boning the duck.  All that procrastination…and yet, once you get started, it really is straightforward. I learned by watching Julia do it on one of her TV episodes.  One time, when I took classes at Tante Marie’s in San Francisco, we made a ballotine of duck….yup….we each boned a duck, stuffed it, tied it with string, and roasted it until the skin was crispy and a luscious dark amber…tender and mouthwatering.  Mary Risely, the owner/instructor was very proud of us that day and I went on to teach my students how to do it. I know Julia would have approved.

PBS has some of The French Chef videos online.   Watch Julia prepare La Tarte Tatin at http://video.pbs.org/video/1166840087/program/1073557581

If you like cooking…or eating….treat yourself to the movie. http://www.julieandjulia.com/

And…think about trying a new recipe this week.

As Julia would say….Bon Appetit!

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