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The Frances-Julia Project

Julia_Child_Kitchen

Thanks to Julia Child, I know how to eat a lobster.  When I was a kid, I used to watch “The French Chef” with my father after school.  Dad was the cook in our family and in the days before TiVo and The Food Network, we used to watch the few cooking shows on PBS and take notes if we saw something that looked interesting. It’s important to note here that what my Dad thought looked tasty (fish almondine), was not necessarily what I thought looked tasty (mousse au chocolat).

But I think it is worth noting that as a 12 year old girl, who had no particular interest in cooking or home economics, I always liked watching “The French Chef.”  I thought she was funny. I liked it when she said things like “imppecably clean tasting spoon,” or suggested that anybody would even want to make their own mayonnaise when the supermarket sold it already made in jars.

One afternoon, Julia was boiling lobsters.  I had never had lobster and as far as I knew, I probably never would.  But Julia was so excited. She looooooved lobster! She seemed positively thrilled just to be talking about lobster.  Her enthusiasm was catchy.  I watched her break the lobster apart and was kind of impressed by the array of tools one needs to take a lobster apart. I thought it was interesting. Then I fogot all about it.

For about 10 years.

So, some time goes by and I’m a college senior on a senior week outing on Cape Cod. The highlight of the day was a clambake on the beach.  It was classic New England. And there we were with our corn on the cob and our steamed clams and our Sam Adams and our lobsters.  I was with seven of my friends and none of us, I mean none of us knew how to eat a lobster. And then I remembered The French Chef.

“I think I know how to do this, ” I said.  “I saw it on the French Chef.” And just like that we are all breaking open our lobsters and dipping them in drawn butter, just like I saw on TV.  At one point, people I didn’t even know came over to ask how to take the lobster apart.  Until that day, I had never even had a lobster, or even touched one. I felt smart and sophisticated.  To me, that’s the magic and the legacy of Julia Child. Her passion for food an cooking and most importantly enjoying your culinary efforts with your family and your friends.

Julia Child wasn’t pompous, precious or snobbish about food.  She didn’t want to teach us how to economize, make meals in 30 minutes or “kick it up a notch.” Julia is important because she taught us that good food prepared well and shared with family and friends can be a lovely part of the human experience.

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