August 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s a pretty safe bet to say that today foodies everywhere will be thinking and writing about Julia Child. I’ve heard that restaurants owned by famous chefs will serve a special French menu in her honor just for this day, what would have been her 100th birthday. A lot has been said and written about Julia already, and I don’t want to overkill the subject with one more piece of cyberspace prose, but let’s just say I’ve often felt that I could relate to her on many levels, so today seems more about remembering a long lost friend than dishing about a celebrity.
I’m sure there are countless amounts of people in the world who think they should be doing something different professionally-speaking than what they currently have to do (to pay the bills, to eat well, to maintain the Mercedes, what-have-you). And then there are secretaries like me, like Julia once was. Oh it’s an honorable job and all, but at the end of the day, it really is the bottom of the pits. She found a thrill in cooking and made a new career out of it. I’m still trying to figure out how to make a career out of writing, but in the meantime, I come home to my quiet suburban house and take the frustrations of corporate servitude out on pastry dough and measuring spoons.
Then there’s Paris. There will always be Paris. I can imagine that the post-war version of the city she saw was very different from the way it looked to me as a new bride in 2010. Maybe it was a little darker, a little less flashy. But the “moveable feast” quality to the city that Hemingway described has always been there. One week on the rue de Laborde was the happiest of my life. I think I know exactly how mesmerized Julia must have felt sitting on her balcony or shopping for bread.
And Julia had Paul. I have Jim. It really is uncanny how a man just picks up a camera and self-learns how to manipulate the light and change the scenery just so. All because his wife baked something she wanted to write about in a book or a blog. I once read somewhere that Paul was an innovator in the realm of cookbook photos, coming up with the idea to shoot on a ladder, above Julia’s tall frame, looking down from the perspective of the cook. It gave an amateur at home a real sense of how the food should look from a very specific angle, almost as if she were there – showing you exactly what to do. He didn’t do this for profit or for glory or extra kisses along the Seine (at least I don’t think he did!). You know what I think? As corny as it sounds, I think he did it simply out of love; love for a woman he met later in life, a legend made in part through his encouragement and support. I have my own version of Paul and believe me when I tell you how rare such men truly are. Tonight he will go with me to a cooking class to learn about making hollandaise and chocolate mousse and soufflé. We’ll do things to scallops we never thought of trying. He’ll probably be the only man there: my personal cheerleader, confidence-booster, and photographer extraordinaire.
So, cheers to you Julia: from one secretary to another, from a woman who misses the streets of Paris, and who would be nowhere without the love of her life.