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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia's Centenary

My best friend M. P. and I are both big fans of Julia Child, and I just found out that today would have been her 100th birthday. So in celebration of a life well lived, which continues to bring joy to millions through her many cookbooks and videos, here's a delightful little remix made for PBS. Enjoy.

My overseas truckbuddies may not know that Julia was an American institution for forty years, beloved by all. And so much so that her kitchen has been preserved in the Smithsonian. In case you're not familiar with her life and work, I highly recommend the 2009 film Julie & Julia, in which the great Meryl Streep plays Julia in what just might her best performance ever.

Here's an overview of Julia's amazing life from Biography:

I can also recommend Julia's charming autobiography, compiled with the help of her nephew, Alex Prud'homme, My Life in France. And though her cookbooks have never been out of print, I've just discovered that Amazon is now selling videos of her PBS cooking show, The French Chef, which you can download online, either per season or per individual show. A great treasure for generations of cooks to come. Here's a delightful little pastiche that gives you a good idea of Julia's cheerful, down-to-earth personality:
One of my favorite quotes by Julia, responding in 1990 to the criticisms of food critics and health Nazis:
Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don't suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life
Exactly. Both Julia and her husband lived to be 92, even with all that butter and cream and cigarettes. And your Head Trucker says: if you're not enjoying your life, what the hell is the point?
Bonus: Here is Julia's very first PBS show in 1962, featuring her famous recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon, which your Head Trucker highly recommends. A year or two ago, M. P. and I - well, mostly M. P., but I helped - followed this recipe to the letter, just to say we had, and the results were magnifique! And here's the printed recipe from her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Although we found by researching through some of Julia's later books and videos that as years went by, she simplified and made shortcuts to the recipe, which made it a bit easier but nonetheless authentically French. Still, you ought to try this version: there's nothing at all in the various steps that is difficult for anybody who can peel an onion or slice a mushroom. Allow 3-4 hours for this operation, first and last - perhaps as a holiday or birthday meal. You'll be mighty damn glad you did.
PS - I apologize for the crowded spacing above; lately, having more than one video in a post causes that, I don't know why.


Ray's Cowboy said...

Ihave to admit. I love watchign her shows. all of the re-runs.


Stan said...

Happy Birthday Julia! As someone who is on a low sodium diet and can't enjoy food the way you did and cooked I salute your statement about the current hysteria we now live with in the US.

Russ Manley said...

St. Julia, pray for us!

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