Friday, August 15, 2008

Remembering Julia

The joy of cooking has always eluded me. I find it to be a chore, which is why cooking shows are so fascinating to me. The ingenuity, patience, and care that the chefs exhibit amaze me. I love the quiet professionalism of Lidia Bastianich, the sensationalism of Top Chef, and the goofiness of Alton Brown. However, none can top the grand dame of all cooking shows: Julia Child, who would have been 96 today.
Her birthday anniversary this year has brought confirmation that she did work for the OSS as a spy during World War II.

Child's first series, The French Chef, began as a simple guest appearance on a local educational television station to promote her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her warm personality resonated with the audience and soon she had her own show. In The French Chef Cookbook, Child describes how the bare-bones production led to taping the show in one long take.

The nonstop taping we have always continued, and in only a few instances….have we had to break off, erase, and pick up again. I can remember only half a dozen occasions, some of which were due to electrical failures, others due to me. Once, doing the 'Lobster a l'Americaine,' every time I touched the cooktop I got a short-circuit in the microphone against my chest, and kept clutching my breast in a very odd fashion. It felt like a bee sting. We wiped out back to the worst clutch, and were able to continue in midstream.

Lucky for us, her talent and her occasional gaffes were captured on film. Take the time to savor a show or two or recreate her recipes at home.

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