Thursday, September 27, 2012

Julia (Child) & Me

Do you ever feel empty? No inspiration? Nothing left to give? Nothing to write about?

Hmmm...that's when it is time to feed your soul.

Today I was mulling over various things to write about, but nothing was getting me excited. And if I'm not excited about a post, why would you be?

I had two choices,

#1-sit and stare at the computer screen until brilliance struck. OR...

#2-read. Finish My Life in France, Julia Child's memoirs.

I chose Julia Child. I got my book, and some goat cheese and crackers, and headed outside during QT for some soul feeding.

Because generally we need to take in, before we can give out. Whether we are drawing from reserves, or starting with new material-we still have to be fed in order to feed.

This applies spiritually as well as physically (which is why nursing moms aren't supposed to diet), as well as mentally. If we are running on empty, it shows.

My "not Julia Child" moment

Today I took the time to recharge by reading this marvelous book. And, I finished it! Just in time for the 3 week checkout deadline.

My first exposure to Julia Child, beyond just being familiar with her name, was the movie, Julie & Julia. (a blogger and Julia Child...what's not to love?)

Mr. Hippie bought me the movie and Mastering the Art of French Cooking a couple years ago when the movie came out. Well, actually, though I cook a lot, I have no desire to master the art of French cooking.

Who eats pig's belly, and calves feet anyway?

I have paged through the cookbook a time or two, looking for inspiration. I usually put it back up on the shelf, and try for something with less steps. Something much less complicated, more normal, and that doesn't take far more time to cook than to consume.

Sorry for the squint...
the one pic of me from the race.
I'm the one in white, who looks like they are really working it.=)

Yet, I did find a gem in there, that has been revisited over and over...Hollandaise. Seriously, if you have ever made Hollandaise and had it flop or not, you need to try Julia's Hollandaise. It is eggy, buttery, lemony goodness. And I am more than willing to eat it with a spoon.

The key to her recipe is the instructions. Julia tells very clearly what to do, and when to do it, and what will happen. She even tells you what will happen if you don't do what she says.

The result is a perfect Hollandaise every time!

How could you not like someone who allowed themselves
to be photographed holding a chicken like this?

My Life in France reads like a novel. Which, is high praise, coming from me. I read novels by the reams. A novel captures your interest and hooks you from the first page until the very last.

My Life in France made me laugh. It is interspersed with French, with marvelous food descriptions, with real photos, and with anecdotal musings.

The memoirs made me understand her cookbook. It gave me an appreciation for the labor of love that her cookbooks are. It is insightful as to why the cook-bookery is so detailed. Just what effort went in to it. Every recipe she includes she thoroughly researched and tested. She experimented until she consistently got the best results-every time.

What I learned form Julia was that our dreams change. She started out life as a big California girl. She entered the diplomatic service during WWII and found her sweetheart in far away lands.

They returned to the States, got married and then were posted to post war Paris. Which was not exactly the flourishing city it is now, or was before WWII.

But, she adapted. Julia started attending the Cordon Bleu. She was bored in France while Paul was busy with his diplomatic job. She enjoyed French food. And she couldn't cook.

She was tenacious-rising to the top of her class by practice and more practice. She kept cooking even when the head of the school hated her.

And she found her dream. Making amazing food. Then writing the definitive French cook book for Americans. Whether amateur or chef, you could make fail proof French food.

She flourished on television, when television was still a new medium. She made friends with people-both renowned chefs in France and America, and movers and shakers in the publishing business.

Julia was sassy. She was generous. She was a Democrat (I know-I still like her). She didn't seem to be at all religious. But she was a great woman, and she was adaptable.

And she was loved. In addition to everything else, My Life in France is a romance. The love of a good man for a good woman. The love of a good woman for a good man. Their love for each other made them each other's biggest cheerleader.

Their love for each other, and their support of each other's dreams and talents, meshed together. Julia cooked, Paul took pictures of her cooking. They moved for his job. They travelled for her dream. They enjoyed being with each other more than anything else.

Reading Julia's memoirs changed me. Like all good books, it too left its imprint.

I was reminded of the importance of life and people-above dreams and core competencies. That doesn't mean your dreams won't be fulfilled, the fulfillment will be richer for sharing.

I appreciate this woman who was strong, and adaptable. Who loved and was loved. Who took life by the horns and ran with it.

And I just may pick up Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and give another recipe a whirl. Who knows, maybe Julia's bouillabaisse will become a new Barefoot Hippie favorite.

Oh, and it is to my lasting regret that we didn't visit Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian American History Museum in D.C.. Next time!

Julia in her well organized kitchen

What is your favorite French recipe? Have you ever tried any of Julia Child's recipes? Was it worth the effort or not so much?

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