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!