Shopping, Eating and Exploring

Come along with me and discover some off-the beaten paths in Southwest France

Friday, August 7, 2009

How Julia Childs Taught Me How to Cook

I was 9 years old when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published, and I wasn't even born when work start on the book. On my first job out of college, I was exposed to a blinding assortment of cheeses, wines, and gourmet foods. Everyone I worked with had done a semester in France, and were part of what was the new "food" thing that was starting in California. I was bitten by the bug and told my boss I wanted to take some cooking lessons.

"Do you know who Julia Childs is?" I didn't. She told me to get the book, work my way through it, and come back when I was done and we would talk. Sound familiar? I went over to the used book store in Walnut Creek and paid $11 for a copy.

I didn't just work through it, I learned how to cook. I had never even seen a souffle before I attempted the chocolate souffle. Julia, through painstaking detail, took me through it, step by step. She even anticipated difficulties before they happened. I learned technique, how to shop, plan a menu, make a sauce and keep a sense of humor from this amazing woman and her book.

Twenty years later, and fully ensconced in the specialty food business, I was able to meet Julia on several occasions. One time, she handed me her keys to get something out of the car...the key chain was a lucite one that said JOOOOLIA.

Today I say the new movie Julie&Julia. I was glad to see the tenderness portrayed between Julia and her husband, Paul. She was certainly the butter on his bread. Without his support and love, that masterpiece of a book wouldn't have been written.

The book she wrote with her nephew, My Life in France, is such a wonderful read, not only for foodies, but anyone who has connected with another place in the world, far from home, that also becomes home.

So, tonight, I raise my glass, once again, to Julia Child, who taught me how to cook and inspires me every day. Salut!!!

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