Last night I, along with every other foodie in America, went to see Julie & Julia. I loved the movie, but then, it was hard not to. I loved that look of satisfaction on Meryl Streep’s face as she triumphantly grinned at the bird-beak of meringue that hung smugly from her balloon whisk. I loved the frenzy over Sole Meuniere. I loved the night cap of mignonette and oyster shooters. I loved it because I was salivating, and dying to be back in Paris. I loved it because they got it right, and because it celebrated what I love most in all the world: French food.
As I drove home, I got to feeling ashamed. Over several things. I’ve been so busy with cooking school, and writing my column, that I haven’t spent the time I should have been spending on this blog, the blog that, like Julie in the movie, was started by my boyfriend and which started it all for me. So, readers, I apologize for that. But I was also ashamed because I, who preach the gospel of easy French food for American cooks, have never read or seen one recipe by the grande dame herself, Julia Child. I didn’t know that my “bon app” signature is just slang for Julia’s valedictory “bon appetit”! I didn’t even realize the extent to which I should have known all of this.
I always write how here in America, we hold French food up as the gold (butter gold) standard. That even provincial French cooking achieves the effortless elegance of a svelte, scarved Parisian woman. It is a passion that consumes me, and which I happily consume. But I have never really been influenced by the woman who changed everything, I now realize, and who made what I do possible, relatable, and I hope, to someone out there, important or inspiring or just sweet fun.
In some ways, I think the lack of influence is a good thing. Julia and I do very different things. We both may have started at the Cordon Bleu, but, from what I understand, she perfected French traditional cooking, where as I interpret the food on which I was raised into what I hope is something a bit tongue-in-cheek and even more accessible, in a world which has changed, as far as I can tell, very dramatically in the last forty or so years. But now I am fascinated, charmed, and beguiled. I ordered the DVDs and Mastering the Art of French Cooking on Amazon last night, and I am salivating again just thinking about its arrival.
I’ll let you know when they get here. Until then, bon app mes amis!