On August 15, Julia Child would have been one hundred years old. If ever I wanted to be invited to a birthday party, it would have been hers. This was the woman who was known throughout the world for saying, "Bon Appetit!" She epitomizes the philosophy of gourmandise - enjoying the experience of eating to the utmost - and she taught a whole generation of North American cooks how to broaden their culinary horizons.
I suppose I was always one of Julia's disciples, being a gourmand from birth. I was weaned on foods like olives and smoked oysters, so early on my sense of culinary curiosity was already developing. Julia Child travelled widely, and she was voracious in her desire to discover specialties of a region and immerse herself in her surroundings. I was also fortunate enough to experience the European lifestyle as a young adult, and that corrupted me as well. The idea of stopping everything - even closing businesses - so that you could enjoy lunch, well, that was my kind of culture. When Julia talked about how the Europeans respect eating, I could relate.
"Food is not a fuel stop; it's a recreation."
Then Julia added in an attitude of "laissez-faire", where you were not supposed to worry if things didn't turn out perfectly. I think that is the characteristic that truly made her dear to so many.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that I try to encourage everyone on a few points:
- be willing to try new tastes and experiences
- don't worry if things don't go according to plan, as the memory will still be worth talking about
- enjoy the bounty of the season, and support your neighbours
Julia taught people all of these things, by showing them on national television and giving them a book to take them step by step. She said, "Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all." I do believe that's worth a toast, don't you?
So, whether you make a grilled cheese sandwich or Boeuf Bourgignon for dinner, raise a glass to the lady who reminded us that everything should be enjoyed in moderation, except life.
P.S. To enjoy some memories of Julia on screen and get her famous recipe for Boeuf Bourgignon, check out this video link: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/julia-childs-beef-bourguignon-8222804