Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspiration in a Whisk - Back 2 Blogging Day 4

I now have that song by Chicago "Your the meaning in my life. You're the inspiration." in my head and it will not go away.  I blame 80's sticky, sweet sap music if this post doesn't cut the mustard.

These days, inspiration can be hard to find.  The media and the internet age seems to expose every flaw in those we hold up on pedestals.  While knowing the truth is a good thing and also knowing no one is perfect is as well, sometimes, it mars the image we had of the person we held to such high esteem.  In my case though, there is an exception.

Me and Julia, we love our knives - courtesy of
Julia Child

Why is she an exception?  Julia never thought she was perfect nor did she ever hide her imperfections.  
I remember seeing her on Public Television when I was little.  I watched her chop things and giggled at her funny voice.  She said words like terrine and Bon Appetite.  I thought she was from Europe. 

Now I know better thanks to "My Life in France" and "Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child".  Julia was an amazing American woman.  It was not just her cooking that made her amazing, she had a wonderfully full and rich life that she achieved on her own.  She was a risk taker and had a passion for life that I so wish I had.

Before Julia even knew how to cook anything, she worked in the Office of Secret Services (predecessor to the CIA) during WWII.  She signed on as a typist but because of her education, she soon became a top secret researcher.  How cool is that?! She received a medal for her work and was greatly respected by her peers and superiors.  She was an organizational machine, cataloging all the officers working for the OSS and keeping track of where they were and what skill sets they had.  This was BEFORE EXCEL!

She married Paul Child whom she met while in the OSS in what is now Sri Lanka.  He signed up for the US Foreign Service so it was off to Paris where Julia discovered her true calling - food.

This was a Valentine's Day card she and Paul sent out one year.  They didn't do Christmas cards but made their own Valentine's cards every year.  She cooks AND she is crafty.  Totally rocks!
Now most of us know the story.  She went to Le Cordon Bleu, and became a famous chef.  End of story.  Not quite.

What you might not know is Julia was the only woman at that time that attended Le Cordon Bleu in the professional section and she spoke next to no French when she began and oh yes, all the classes were in French. 

WHA!  Seriously!?  YES!  She learned French from people and classes while she was there. I can barely read the Metro signs in France (which any child can follow, and do) and she was listening to cooking classes and reading French books not knowing French.  Crazy and awesome.

Also, she started a small cooking school with friends in France and called it L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes.  These are the women with whom she wrote a little book called "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" or as I (and many others) refer to it, the bible.  Actually, they had a hard time selling that book.  Some silly company named Houghton Mifflin passed it over, citing that it was too much like an encyclopedia. 

Um, yeah...encyclopedia of GREATNESS.

It took time but they found another publisher.  Julia didn't give up.  When it was published, it became a best seller.  Put that in your omelette pan and flip it Houghton Mifflin!

We all know from Public Television or (Saturday Night Live, which she thought was hilarious) that she was on TV as well.  She flung fish and chopped chickens and served up French dishes in a way that made people say, "I can do that."  The more people that tried it, actually liked it and a new cooking movement was born, or reborn depending on your opinion.

Julia was a force of nature, in the best possible way. She was strong, passionate, smart and lived life to it's fullest and still was the gal you want to hang out in the kitchen with a glass (or many glasses) of wine.  I think she is one of the most amazing women to ever walk the face of the earth.  She inspires me to at least try to take risks and ENJOY LIFE!  I am working on them both but I have a good person to learn from.


Andrew Green said...

How could anyone not like Julia Child?
She was clearly a class act.

Ever seen that movie with Anne Hathaway? It's...pretty OK.

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Bloody interesting post - you should write her biography! We don't know about her here in the UK so it has been a bit of a discovery... thanks!

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

Thanks for your sweet comment--I definitely related, and really appreciated it! I also loved reading this post. So true that she wasn't perfect and didn't hide it, and look where that got her! :) That's so cool about her role in the war! I had no idea that's how it all came about!

Terra said...

I am a big fan of Julia Child, watching 'Julie and Julia' really inspired me:) She truly was herself always, never tried to be somebody else, I think that is what I loved most about her. I started watching her on PBS also, when she was doing the show with Jacques Pipen:)

Los said...

I watched the movie - Julie and Julia, and really liked it ... except for the end, when it seemed that Julia became an old crabby woman.

Abbie said...

Very interesting and a great person to find inspiration from.
Thanks for sharing!

Erin said...

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get over here & start following you. My daughter had surgery yesterday and things are crazy!

I love Julia Child! I loved the Julie & Julia book & movie, and just started reading "My Life in France."

I hope to become a better cook when my kids get a little older...but there's always an excuse, LOL!

Tracy @ The Chameleon's Backbone said...

I also liked "Julie and Julia." Did you see it?

Jen said...

Did you love the movie, Julie and Julia. I thought it was so cute. :)

Anonymous said...

So of course I giggled at "Put that in your omelette pan and flip it."

I need to find ways to say this in real life.

Roo {NiceGirlNotes} said...

I'm not anonymous. Google comments was just hating me for a second.

barbara said...

Julia was truly an inspiration, in more ways than one. I remember her last PBS show, 'Cooking with Julia' where she'd have guests cook and she'd kibitz. One day the guest was making fruit tarts and commented that she didn't think they could be made without all fresh fruit. Then Julia said one of my favorite lines ever... 'of course you can, you just douse it all in bourbon!'

Sara Louise said...

I worship at the alter of Julia! I was a PBS kid and grew up watching her. Now, I like to watch her show on the internet while I'm cooking (I'm not even cooking what she's cooking, I just like hearing her voice!)
And written on my chalkboard in the kitchen, one of my favorite Julia quotes; "If I didn't feed him well, I wouldn't keep him around long"
Brilliant post!