Today would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who hasn’t been inspired by Julia Child at one point in their life or hasn’t at least imitated her very distinct voice. She was a legend; not just in the kitchen, but in the image she created and her personality as well. She was a giant with a booming voice who managed to take cooking seriously, but showed us that it was okay to foul up every once in a while, laugh it off and keep going.
My earliest memories of Julia are of my father watching her on PBS (somewhere before or after Bob Ross, I’m sure). That theme music was so familiar and she had such a presence while she was cooking. While the closest thing to french cooking I’ve done is heating up a tray of Trader Joe’s beef bourguignon, Julia truly began to inspire me when I saw Julie & Julia and also read the book. I not only related to Julie Powell’s brand new cooking experiences and ultimate success in the kitchen, but I learned a lot about Julia Child as well and how she had gotten her start as a world famous chef. Julia was 32 when she started cooking. I think I really started becoming more familiar in the kitchen when I was around 28, trying to win over Mike through his stomach, wanting to prove that I wouldn’t poison him and could be a good, traditional wife if things went well (apparently it worked!). I learned by trial and error and now my family gives rave reviews about my cooking instead of cringing each time I’d say I wanted to prepare a meal. I get special requests and I’m not afraid to branch out from familiar recipes anymore. Some of my cooking experiments have failed, but after all it’s about the pleasure that goes into the experience.
So here’s to you, Julia, on your 100th for showing me that the kitchen is fun, not work, that sometimes you need to poke a little fun at yourself and that not every meal requires a takeout menu as a back up plan.