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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Remembering Julia Child

Most of us who are older know that Julia Child was a very famous cookbook author, and quite an outspoken person on political and other matters. Although I think I have only one cookbook by Julia Child, I was impressed by this tall lady (I think she stood 6 foot 2 inches) with her booming voice, when I was merely 35 years old, and had just finished my own first cookbook - although way more modest than anything she ever wrote. I found out to my chagrin that I would need to do a cooking show or two to promote my cookbook. I was given a video of Julia Child in action on T.V. I laughed and laughed because there she was on TV making these crepes, and would you know it, they all broke into pieces in the pan as she tried to flip 'em. She got so upset with them, that she laughingly threw them all over the set. Hahaha. It gave me courage when on my first cooking show, I had to demonstrate the Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake and ran into a spot of trouble. I had made the blueberry puree ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator on the set. Only trouble is when I dropped my blobs of blueberry puree onto the prepared cheesecake batter, to my horror they sank almost completely leaving very little blueberry floating on top the way it was meant to, before I swirled it in. Apparently, refrigerating the mixture made it heavier and more solid or something like that - less buoyant. Remembering Julia Child, I kept a smile on my face and maintained my composure, but I was dying inside of embarrassment. In hindsight, few people would have realized that something was amiss.

So, thank you, Julia - your funny video kept me from making a complete idiot of myself. May your memory continue on for generations.

I found more along those lines of what she used to do on camera for those interested:

"David Davis, then a staff member, remembers sitting in the remote truck. "Julia was 20 minutes into her first show, and the elevator bell rang. I thought, 'What are you going to do?' She was whipping away at something [and] said, 'Oh, somebody's at the door, but I'm much too busy.'"

Russ Morash, who was producing the program, recalls her pausing, then saying, "Oh, that must be the plumber. About time he got here. He knows where to go." In any case, her talent for improvisation (which she emphasized in cooking as well as TV production) was early and clearly evident.

Much has been made of Julia's on-camera faux pas — flipping the potato pancake onto the stove by mistake, adding wine instead of oil to a dish, and reaching for a pound of butter and finding a note to the prop girl to put it there. They became part of her public persona.

In fact, these errors were quite rare, for she was, and is, greatly meticulous in every aspect of organizing her programs. In the beginning, she spent 19 hours preparing for a typical half-hour show, with a large number of people — most of them volunteers — assisting behind the scene. What people really recall were her recoveries from the rare mishaps, her cheerful off-handedness. In the case of the famous pancake flip-out she remarked, "But you can always pick it up," which she did, adding, "If you are alone in the kitchen, whooooo is going to see?"

Julia Child was probably most known for her classic cookbook - Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She died August 12, 2004. She was 92!!


Tracey said...

There's a movie coming out about her this summer! She's being played by Meryl Streep.

Jennifer said...

Wow, thank you so much for letting me know that. I love Meryl Streep as an actress and person too!

Nancy said...

My favorite Julia Child moment, she was moving a roast from the roasting pan to a carving board when she dropped it. The camera followed the roast to the floor then up to Julia's face, she looked directly into the camera, picked the roast up, dusted it off and said
"Remember, you are alone in the kitchen."
I loved it, laughed until I cried, and believe me that is the line I use whenever there is a foul up in my kitchen!!

Jennifer said...

Oh Nancy, thank you so much for sharing that comical Julia Child story here. I laughed and laughed too just reading it! That was Julia for sure! ROFL

Vikki said...

I remember watching her show daily on PBS and the thing I loved most about Julia was that she (a formally trained, uber famous chef) kept it casual and made it fun! She was often messy (something I can definitely identify with) and always funny. Simply said, she made cooking fun, and she made the world a much better place for having been a part of all our lives. I hope she's still cooking up a storm in heaven.

Jennifer said...

Hi Vikki - you knew Julia much better than I from watching her that often. :-)