Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Apologies to Julia Child (And Lessons Learned)


Dear Julia,

So sorry I missed the big party.  Looked like quite the celebration! I meant to come, but life got in the way, Blogger has been giving me fits, and, well, I just couldn't make it.  There were so many lovely tributes I read, though, I knew you wouldn't miss my not being there.

Still, your 100th birthday!  That sure is something. I was remiss in not returning my RSVP.

I loved watching your shows, loved reading your cookbooks.  You made me believe that what I always thought was "fancy" cooking really was not only quite doable, but also quite fun.  And you seemed so approachable.  Even though I know you must have had high standards, you always seemed to have plenty of room for mistakes.

And despite the fact that you were very tall and had a unique voice, you were very feminine, not in a girly-girly way but in a very womanly way.

I feel I would have admired you as much in person as I do from a distance.  I would have loved to be at a dinner table (or the kitchen) with you. From what I've read, you were not only a wonderful cook and teacher, but a witty conversationalist, well-read and opinionated and blessed with a wonderful sense of humor, able to laugh at yourself.


If I had made it to the party on time, I would have wanted to tell you what I've learned from you, and it's not all cooking:
  • It's never too late. You didn't start really cooking until you were in your thirties; didn't start your first TV show until you were 50.  And your "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was years in the making. As I approach (another!) decade birthday, I am heartened to know that I can still believe there's time to do the things I want.
  • There's nothing like a good man.  I love Mr. Rosemary to pieces. (Even when we irritate each other! He calls our disagreements "spatulas.")  From what I've had glimpses of, you were very much in love with your Paul, on every level.  It reminds me very much of my aunt, the one who inspired me to cook.  Like you she married later than most, never had children, but shared a love of food and travel and the finer things in life with her husband, who adored her.  And she him.
  • There's also nothing like a good knife. I have a couple really good knives; most of them are so-so. But I remember you every time I have recently sharpened my best knife and use it.
  • One good thing leads to another. Your delight in good knives was what led you to one of your greatest friendships -- with Avis DeVoto -- and your connection to getting your work published. I devoured, "As Always, Julia."
  • Letter writing is a good thing. Your letters back-and-forth to Avis are simply delightful. A collection of your e-mails and tweets would not have been the same.
  • It's okay to make mistakes. Your famous line about dropping the lamb when you're alone in the kitchen ("Who's to know?") always makes me smile.
  • Be flexible.  It's good to have a plan, but you need to be able to shift gears if the situation changes, or you run out of cream.
  • Be passionate and persistent. Whether in marriage, friendship, or cooking, nothing really great comes of half-hearted efforts.
  • Butter is good.  All things in moderation is a great motto.  Who can not smell butter melting and not know good things are coming?
  • So is bourbon. The fact that you enjoyed wine and liquor, either cooking or imbibing, wasn't a secret. Nor was the fact that you didn't think much of my favorite cuisine, Italian, especially when compared to French  (You thought  Italians just shopped well.) I love the story Mary Ann Esposito tells of the time you cooked with her on her show making fritattas and omelets side by side. When Mary Ann asked what you would  have added to the fritatta, you said, "Bourbon."  (I prefer scotch.)
The hoopla has died down now, and I think it was a wonderful celebration. Thank you for sharing your love of cooking, your love of life. It's infectious, just like your laugh.

Sincerely,

Rosemary

30 comments:

  1. What a great post, Rosemary! I love your list...and my favorite part is that Mr. Rosemary calls your disagreements "spatulas." He must have a wonderful sense of humor :)

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    1. Thanks, Lizzy . . he made me laugh when we were recalling one of our "spatulas."

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  2. You really made me smile tonight :)

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    1. It was fun for me to come up with the list, Mary. I just wish I would have made something special, too. Or at least boned a whole chicken.

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  3. What a gorgeous post - thank you :D
    Your really cool my friend!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. I think Julia Child must have been pretty cool!

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  4. Julia was fabulous wasn't she. My favorite was "it's okay to make mistakes." I didn't know how to cook when we first married and my husband told me to try and if I messed something up, he would take me out to dinner. I didn't very often and the rest is history.
    Sam

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    1. Seems to me, Sam, that you and your husband sure must eat pretty well! Didn't take you too many mistakes!

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  5. A lovely tribute to Julia's birthday. Didn't know about her until I watched the film Julie and Julia. And I still remember the scene that she was in the kitchen chopping the onions....she was definitely a character that spoke to me.

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    1. I think that scene sure displayed her persistence, Angie.

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  6. How lovely, Rosemary. I am going to print off your 'essence of sound advice' n keep it where I can see it every day. I think Julia would have enjoyed meeting you too.

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    1. She struck me as a pretty common sense kind of person -- I need reminders all the time. Maybe I should print these off, too. Thanks, Hester.

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  7. What a fantastic post--these are all great lessons to have learned from Julia. She really was an inspiration, wasn't she?

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    1. I got the idea that while she was confident, she wasn't vain or cocky. More admirable traits.

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  8. Hi Rosemary, what a great post. I loved your letter to Julia, and I found myself nodding at each of the lessons you learned from her. Thank you for sharing. I'm sure she wouldn't mind such a lovely belated birthday gift!

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    1. I wish I hadn't been late . . I would have maybe even baked something. (No reason why I couldn't still, right?)

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  9. Lovely post! There's so many lives that have been inspired by Julia, if she only knew!!

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    1. I'd like to think she read my letter.

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  10. What a terrific post! I love the list of things you learned. (I prefer Scotch too.)

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  11. Rosemary I love this post. It's perfect and honestly it's too bad she's not around to read this. I'm quite certain she would have had quite a few witty comments to come back with. This made me smile and laugh.

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    1. It's nice to imagine what her witty comebacks would be, Vicki.

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  12. What a lovely tribute. Your post is perfect. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

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    1. I'm sure there are new role models for young people these days -- but this was a good vintage.

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  13. Great post, dearie! My, Julia was a truly great woman ...

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    1. I still say it would have been great to meet her, dearie . . .

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  14. This is a great post - I really enjoyed it.. I missed Julia's birthday as well...but I think we can celebrate what she was about every day, no?

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    1. I think a lot of us already do -- you're right, Cher.

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  15. What a wonderful post!!! I really loved this - so touching - really lovely
    mary x

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    1. Glad you liked it, Mary . . . it was fun to write.

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