August 15 will mark the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birth. I did not appreciate Julia until I read her autobiography, which chronicled the painstaking process she took in developing and testing recipes for The Art of French Cooking. She wanted to ensure the recipes were fool-proof for anyone who wanted to attempt them. Anyone with that kind of dedication deserved to be revered—particularly when you consider the slapdash approach of many “celebrity cookbooks” nowadays. Many of them are tested by professional testers in commercial kitchens, not home cooks.
In reviewing her recipes, some can seem dated (aspic, anyone? really? meat-flavored jello…). She preferred small dinner parties, serving food family style instead of the faux-restaurant plating that many overambitious (moi included) home cooks do.
I have a four CD set of her program “The French Chef,” and I was amused with this mash-up of scenes from that show:
Perhaps what I love most about Julia was her casual approach to cooking. She encouraged nervous home cooks that they could make these great dishes, and she didn’t take herself so seriously.
So we are planning a little exclusive dinner here in honor of her birthday, and I’m having a blast pouring over my collection of books and videos.
As a practice run, however, here is a picture of a recent souffle I made for dinner: