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, December 18, 2010

"To Master The Art . . .

I was assisting two friends of mine in hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for about thirty people here in Chicago when I met one of the guests named David. By the time I was introduced to him, he knew that I was a Julia Child cook and blogger, so they asked if I'd been to "the Julia Child play."

"The what?" I queried.

The play about Julia Child. "I think it's called 'Mastering the Art' or something like that",  he said. It was a play about Julia Child and her husband when they lived in postwar France and her discovery of cooking.  "But it's been sold out for a long time," said another one of the Davids. 

"To Master the Art"

He said that the theatre might be adding a couple of performances and that I should call the Timeline Theatre the very next day. Maybe I could get a ticket. . . .

I called the theatre the next day, the very minute the box office opened. All performances were sold out, But! . . alas! .They had added one more performance on December 15th and had only two tickets left. . .
"Did I want them?"

"Yes . . . innocently . . . Implicitly. . . .

My bestie foodie friend, Liane, accompanied me on a blisteringly cold night to a performance of "To Master the Art".  Within the first thirty seconds of this performance, I had tears streaming down my face. The performance was that stunning. Liane was, hopefully, not embarrassed by my reaction; I doubt that she was surprised by it. (After all, that's why I brought my bestie foodie friend to accompany me to the world premier of this performance.)

Needless to say, the performances were brilliant throughout. Whenever there was a scene in a restaurant, a kitchen, or the Cordon Bleu, the audience was permeated with exquisite different aromas: roasted chicken in tarragon, and, (I swear) the smell of beurre blanc blasted the audience.

The theatre was small and intimate, perhaps six rows seated in-the-round, so we could really enjoy every facial expression. (I'm dying to see what some chef-musician wanna-be will do to Julia's vocal line when this is crucified into an off-Broadway musical -- and don't think for a moment that I won't be the one to take a stab at doing it!)

Please know that "To Master the Art" the stage performance was written BEFORE the movie "Julia and Julia" - - that abominable, trite thing. 

I'm truly sad that I saw the last performance of "To Master the Art."  During the next two-and-a-half hours of the performance, I laughed, was surprised, cried some more and continued to be overwhelmed  - - - at how much joy can be obtained from food. . . . Such joy from food! 

But, you know, . . . . the same thing happens whenever I prepare any one of Julia's recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Whenever I follow Julia's precise instructions, pure unalloyed joy -- and some euphoria - - are always the results. How many endeavors such as that can one claim?

"To Master the Art" conveyed precisely what I've felt about Julia's work all along. That's why I wept within the first thirty seconds.

"To Master the Art" will be a huge hit, mark my words.
My only frustration is this - -

- - that everyone I truly love didn't get to see it with me.

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