August 15, 2012

The Julia I remember...

I was born in 1966... the time when Julia Child had her new cookbook out and she was starting her television career as the French Chef at WGBH in Boston.  In the 1970's, as a little girl, I would watch the traditional Saturday morning cartoons but was drawn back to the television as my own mother would tune in to watch The French Chef with Julia Child on PBS.  It became a regular staple in my young impressionable life.  I continued to tune in when I could as I grew older and loved her friendly conversation with the camera and the way she seemed fearless and carefree about cooking.

Little did I know at the time, but her impact on my own life would take me into the culinary world.  I grew up watching my Meemaw cook and bake for her family and I would be interested in the things my Dad was cooking.  I believe I was drawn to it because of the interest in cooking she stirred in me.  I would later discover that I had a love for browsing cookbooks, reading recipes and imagining the outcome.  I would scour magazines for recipes to clip and try and still have a notebook I put together starting back in my middle school years.  I went to college to study education and music and had very few skills in cooking to sustain myself but always had the desire to know more.  I sought out the help of resources, including Julia's cookbooks, to help me learn to cook for my own new husband as she did for her husband Paul.  So much was trial and error but I never gave up because she made it seem so simple and enjoyable and I had to know how that felt!  Success did come... and watching her made me brave.

My life paralleled her life in many ways when it came to food.  Until I was in my 30's I had only been one to eat food and not to cook.  Once I discovered cooking my whole world opened up and I finally understood so much more about food and fellowship and life.  The connection that food has for every aspect of life came through in watching as she was so passionate in putting beautiful food on the table.  Food is important... not only for life but for coming together and sharing among generations and adding flavor to everyday living.  Food is not to be worshiped but it is certainly to be savored!

Julia, not only made me interested in cooking, but she opened the way for me to be able to attend culinary school.  Until the 1960's women were not even allowed into a culinary school outside of a "housewives" class.  My own home economics teacher longed to attend but was not allowed.  She shares stories of that and now she is playing a crucial role in starting a small associates in culinary arts in my home town.  Thanks to Julia... she is able to be an instructor!  Julia studied with chefs and the doors began to open in the 1970's for women to be able to attend as students to become chefs themselves.  I graduated 15 months ago with honors from a local culinary school and I can thank Julia for kicking those doors wide open for women like me.  I graduated at the age of 44 years of age.  I had three female instructors in my time there and they were magnificent teachers and role models.

On my bucket list?...

go and see her kitchen in the Smithsonian Museum

and continue to study culinary arts in some capacity for the rest of my life.

I want to pass the torch to the next generation of women who can see their dreams realized because of women like Julia.  I want my daughter to know how to cook for her family and friends and not be afraid of the kitchen.

Julia's story is a fabulous inspiration to so many... you can take a look here for a brief overview of her life or you can just head to a local library or bookstore and pick up her Biography called Appetite for Life:  The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch.  I hope during this 100 year celebration you will take the time to find out more about her and her contribution to the culinary world and to home cooks everywhere.  Learn about her fascinating life outside of food.  Maybe you can try a new recipe from one of her many cookbooks.  Whatever you do.... celebrate with gusto... she did!

Has she inspired you?  Please share how with us...  leave a comment or a link to a post of your own.

Happy Birthday Julia!!!  You will be missed but your legacy lives on in our hearts, minds and kitchens!

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