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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Favorite Julia Child Quotes

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I finished my first Christmas book, My Life in France (thanks Mom!) and I have to say that Julia Child is my new hero.  I'm certain as I read the pages of her book that we are almost twins.  For anyone that doesn't know a thing about Julia Child (which was me until I saw the movie Julie & Julia, which made me want to learn more) she's amazing.

You can google her yourself (or read her book!) for a more comprehensive bio, but basically she lived in France with her husband (who worked for the US gov) for oh I don't remember like four years... in which time she fell in love with French food, then French cooking, then teaching French cooking lessons, then writing a French cookbook for Americans.  And later, she became the first to air a successful cooking series on American television.  She basically made the art of French cooking available to the average American housewife.  It took her years and years of hard work to publish her two cookbooks.  She was such a great lady... I wish I could have met her!  Definitely a kindred spirit :o)

Here are some of my favorite parts:

"The sweetness and generosity and politeness and gentleness and humanity of the French showed me how lovely life can be if one takes time to be friendly."  I love this.  I feel like I'm learning the same!  Except my teachers are the Germans I rub shoulders with and the military family I am now a part of.  I was always pretty outgoing but I think I'm becoming even more so... I'm learning how quickly strangers can become friends if you just muster up the courage to say "hello"!

In talking about a cooking boo-boo she made for a friend: "We ate lunch with painful politeness and avoided discussing its taste.  I made sure not to apologize for it.  This was a rule of mine."  This is great... and a good reminder for me lately as I have been experimenting with new recipes.  But of course, not every recipe (or try at it) can be a success... so I've just been grinning and bearing it through some of my failures.  Julia said that some of her early cooking failures "broke her heart" and I couldn't agree more... I hate it when something doesn't turn out.  Especially when I was really looking forward to eating it... like my failed BĂ©arnaise sauce for steak.  It's on the menu to try again next week ;o)

She describes a night in Paris in vivid detail... it was one of their last nights before moving to Marseille.  "When you know your time in a place is running out, you try to fix such moments in your mind's eye."  I feel this way about our little German village and we aren't anywhere near moving, yet!  But still... I know it'll feel like a blink of the eye and we'll be packing again.  So I often find myself just soaking up everything I can about this place... I stand in front of the wall of windows just looking out over the town and sighing.  It's so lovely here!  And if it wasn't so far from my family I would never want to leave!

They lived in Germany!  (I was delighted to discover this!)  They moved here after their time in France... and she says, "The army families showed almost no interest in Germany or the Germans, which I found depressing.  Hardly any of them spoke the language, even after having lived there for several years."  It's so true.  I have heard many stories of people living on base in their host country and never really stepping outside of their mini-America.  It's a shame.  And as far as the language goes, you already know I'm trying.  But I know that I need to try harder if I'm going to be able to communicate at all this summer (or the next!)

"At lunch, we took half an hour to decipher the menu, then ordered smoked sausage, sauerkraut, and beer.  It was delicious, and, again, we were struck by how nice the Germans were.  I struggled to reconcile the images of Hitler and the concentration camps with these friendly citizens.  Could they really be the same people who had allowed Hitler to terrorize the world just a few years earlier?"  This is something that I, too, have thought of in the past nine months here.  "The War", as Lilo calls it, seems so far removed from me.  But living in Germany makes you think about it in a different way.  The battle(s) fought on this soil... the generation of young men lost or ruined... the heartache of such a terrible time in their national history... I love the German people.  I'm sad for how "The War" tainted them.

Julia worried that her cookbook about from-scratch French cooking would be ill-received because of the change beginning to take place in America.  "But American supermarkets were also full of products labeled 'gourmet' that are not: instant cake mixes, TV dinners, frozen vegetables, canned mushrooms, fish sticks, Jell-O salads, marshmallows, spray-can whipped cream, and other horrible glop.  This gave me pause.  Would there be a place in the USA for a book like ours?  Were we hopelessly out of step with the times?"  Her book did fabulously.  But her perception of the national cooking culture is true: Americans like convenience.  We don't like to take time in the kitchen.  And our health suffers for it.  It makes me very sad.

Along the same lines she worried, "Mechanization was taking over the food business, even in France, and it seemed clear to me that many of the artisanal skills... would disappear within a generation or two."  Sniff, sniff.  The artisan craft of cooking isn't dead Julia!  It still lives in some kitchens!  Technology made cooking easier, but then the food industry hijacked it and created a world of processed convenience foods.  But don't worry, Julia... some of us are starting to see the light.  I'm not be as in love with French cooking, but I sure do love to cook.  I have much to learn, but few things make me happier than spending time in the kitchen creating something nourishing and yummy for my family!

"'No one's more important than people.'  In other words, friendship is the most important thing - not career or housework, or one's fatigue - and it needs to be tended and nurtured."  This was one of her and her husband Paul's favorite sayings.  The mention of housework and fatigue jumped out to me because those two are often reasons that I neglect friendship with My Love and with my children.  Also with my family (regularly connecting with loved ones in the States) and even with my friends here.  There's obviously balance to be had... a Momma of two little kids needs to do laundry and get adequate sleep.  But I can head in the opposite extreme at times.  I want the people in my life to be more important than my to-do lists.  Julia really loved people... almost as much as she loved cooking ;o)


  1. wow - didn't know I was giving you such a great book! can ya bring/send it home sometime so I can read it? love you girlie - - sending hugs from home!

  2. Yeah I'll put it in the next package I send your way :o)