My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Julia's Kitchen

Can you remember those afternoons when you got to be by yourself, nothing was pressing, and you were able to just "get fetal" with a good book?

This afternoon was one of those times. I was re-reading My Life in France, probably the most delightful and appealing publication ever written about Julia Child. It's absolutely charming and truly captures the essence of what made Julia Julia Child.

I was longing to be like her. She was an extrovert, adored people, loved precise measurements and exact techniques, while I -- well, I love theoretical anything, creativity, and am rejuvenated by my time alone while reposed in solitude. I am truly glad there are people like Julia in this world who make up for the people like me. 

I had also just canceled my appointment to apply for a 60-week night program at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school here in Chicago. I told them, "I'm too old to do that." They called back wanting to know if the (rather large) fee was too much. Good lord, no. But my feet hurt and I only want my plantar fasciitis to go away. Now leave me alone.  
Boo hoo-hoo!

I was fully immersed in my Julia-envy / tragic me-mode when the phone beeped; a nasty, electronic, invasion of my melancholic solitude.

It was my friends, Jack and Steve while on a business trip to Washington DC. They had taken a side-trip to the Smithsonian and were instantly squeak-twirping photos to me from the Julia Child exhibit via their dual iPhones.

I hopped onto my PC and began downloading their photos.
Of Julia's kitchen.
Right when I was feeling so self-absorbed and longing to have in life what she had.

Then the photos began pouring in. . . Thanks to their iPhones, I was getting to see her kitchen right then and there.

And then, there was a quote by Julia Child about her kitchen: "If we ever get into the money, I am going to have a kitchen where everything is my height, and none of this pigmy stuff."

Well, I was at least able to get my kitchen to accommodate my 6' 3" height, all because of Julia's idea, and what a joy that has been. And, yes, I love my day-care-center color scheme of primary colors. I'm about to order a midnight-blue refrigerator. After all, what else would you do with those screeching-yellow 1963 metal cabinets? Get rid of them? No, they're incredibly rare. I challenge you to find anything like that online.

My own Batterie de Cuisine

I love my kitchen  -- and the fact that she made it possible to experience the results of her work.

I think it was St. Thérèse of Lisieux who said something like, "When we are able to find joy in the talents of others, we then possess those talents more than they."

I've always thought that was so very profound -- or that she just knew a bit of sneaky phenomenology.

I'll not experience the success or notoriety that Julia knew, but then, she never knew the unalloyed pleasure of discovering her work like we have.

". . . we then possess those talents more than they."

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