What Julia Child Taught Me About Food
Julia Child was a family friend from childhood. I can remember her vividly coming to our house for dinner. Mom was Julia's interior designer after she moved to Montecito from Cambridge. This was after her famed stints in France writing cook books and hosting her infamous TV show. The Child's, and especially Julia, were very social. She loved to sit and chat. And while she was really there to talk to my mom, I learned by observing and hearing them visit.
Here are some of those things - (from a pre-teen perspective):
Table manners are not the most important thing. As children, we were taught to sit and wait for our meal and not start eating until everyone is there. Julia did not do that when she came to the table. She was famous for plopping down in the chair and starting the meal while everyone was still getting served. It's almost like she did not have the time for frivolity at the table.
Food should be eaten with gusto, not delicately. Continuing on from #1, she ate with vibrancy, and spirit, and gusto. There was nothing delicate about it. She enjoyed every last bit. While it's important to eat wisely and healthy, I can't help but love the idea of eating to enjoy, making it almost a sport, as Julia did.
Good food is good enough. Many of our friends could not understand why mom would have Julia over for dinner, as they thought the food needed to be super gourmet. My mother always said, good food is good enough. I think Julia agreed.
Lemon Squares (or something basic) is preferable. On one particular afternoon, we all went to the beach, and my mother served lemon squares that I had made earlier in the day for dessert. Julia took one bite and said "I've never heard of a lemon square...can I have the recipe?" In that moment, it occurred to me that basic food, sometimes the food that we all take for granted, is the most delicious. Lemon squares, or something equally basic, is all you need to make a great meal.
Food prep should be social -- let everyone into the kitchen. One day, Julia had us over for lunch in her Boston kitchen. I don't recall the details of why we where there, but I do remember sitting at the table in the middle of that room (it's the kitchen in the photo), and just chatting away while she sliced and diced at the counter. I think Julia was the original open kitchen entertainer.
While the memories of Julia are faded, these early experiences are much of the reason I love food and everything connected to food. I think that our table linen collections come from here too. Our linens are not the most fancy or ornate. They are just simply the best fabric stock, the best made, and very practical. I like to believe that Julia would have loved them.
So thank you, Julia, for your lasting legacy, even if it's just a memory.