Culinary Foundation – Happy Birthday Julia Child

August 15, 2012  •  Best of the Food Web, Food for Thought

Today, food bloggers all over the world are saluting Julia Child, honoring her memory with a post and their rendition of one of her recipes, and telling their own stories of how she inspired them to get in the kitchen and cook. I felt guilty for not doing a similar post today, but then it occurred to me that my culinary foundation just didn’t really include Julia Child. Sure, I know who she was, and yes, I’m old enough that I might have watched her on TV.I do have the famous cookbook, but then that’s because I’m a collector of cookbooks and no collection would be complete without her book. But have I opened it and recreated one of her recipes? Nope. In fact, it’s almost embarrassing to say, but I remember the Saturday Night Live skit about her almost more than I remember her from back in the day.

With my mom in 2000

But there is one person who provided all of the foundation I needed in the kitchen, from the basics and beyond, and that was my mom. When I was young, she bought me an Easy Bake Oven and let me do whatever I wanted with it. She didn’t complain when my sister and I created sugar and butter sandwiches (try it and you’ll get it!). She included me in dinner preparation at a young age and I have fond memories of making meatballs, fried chicken (you know, in the old fashioned electric skillet?), Chinese steak, mashed potatoes, stuffing for our Thanksgiving bird, and more. I look back and realize that I must have learned quite a bit early in life because when I was 14 I made a complete Chinese dinner from scratch to surprise her for her 40th birthday. As I got older, she shared her plans for entertaining with me, bubbling about the recipes she was going to make and sharing them with me so that I could use them for my own parties. I am forever grateful that I had a mom that cooked and that taught me how to cook too. She’s quite a bit older now, and when we have a meal together, I do all the cooking. I hope she sees the role she played in making me the cook I am today.Perhaps this has something to do with why I feel compelled to teach people to cook today. For my students who didn’t learn at the sides of their moms, I find myself wanting to fill in the gaps. For those who did (or who do today like many of my kids) I just want to reinforce that experience.I guess the point is that Julia Child did just that with so many people – inspired them to get in the kitchen cooking, taught them not to be afraid of making a little mistake (the beauty of live television!), and showed that cooking for yourself and others is both fun an gratifying.

So Happy Birthday to Julia, and a world of thanks to my mom!


2 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Mrs. Jen B says:

    This is lovely, and reminds me of my own experiences growing up in the kitchen. Though I must admit, while my mom tried her best, she wasn’t a born cook. And neither was her mother. They cooked because the family had to eat. So I’m guessing that some of my skill had to do with me.

    Anyway, you’re spot on with your observations on Julia. In a time when instant this and boxed that and frozen whatnot were the thing, she dared to remind people that good cooking didn’t have to be unapproachable or beyond the realm of a regular person. I wish more people remembered that today…!

  2. Janine says:

    I sure do remember the Easy Bake sugar and bread sandwiches, and let’s not forget the peanut butter, bread crumb, and powedered sugar cakes! I do vividly remember you preparing that Chinese dinner for Mom’s 40th and that it was really good! Love this photo of you with her – a lot has happened since 2000 so this is a real treasure. xox Janine

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