When she was in her 20’s, my friend Emily worked as an assistant for Simone Beck (Simca) for awhile in France. ( OMG! What kid out of college wouldn’t want this job??)!
Simca was a French cookbook author and teacher who co-wrote “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” Vol I & II with Julia Child, so it makes perfect sense that Emily’s path crossed with Julia’s.
Last week, on August 15th, were she still alive, Julia Child would’ve celebrated her 100th birthday. The occasion turned into a media frenzy of sorts, with everyone remembering Julia the person and Julia the icon who changed our humble American way of cooking.
She was the first to do her own cooking show, from which so many talented chefs have since carried on. If you’ve ever seen one of her shows, you know that she was, quite simply, unforgettable….as well as very funny and down to earth.
She was from Pasadena, California, which is where I’m from too. Well, really, I’m from San Marino, but the 2 towns are right next to one another and you pass over into one from the other while driving down the street, never knowing where one ends and one begins.
Being from the same area, I never understood Julia’s particular way of speaking, but then, you know what? She was so over the top in every way… height, personality, sense of humor and sheer determination… that I suppose it’s only fitting that she had an over the top way of speaking to go along with it all. Had she been the type to put on airs, it would’ve been too much…but she wasn’t, as Emily so fondly remembers below.
I asked Emily to share something about Julia as well as her favorite recipe. She said that her Creme Renversee au Caramel ( caramel custard, unmolded.. warm or cold) made her start to salivate just thinking of it. So, in remembrance on her birthday month, Emily shares her thoughts and favorite Julia recipe below, and I’ve thrown in some favorite quotes and also a you tube of Julia and David Letterman.. cooking hamburgers no less (which turned into steak tartare… just watch it..)!
From Emily, on Julia Child
“I worked and lived with Simone Beck and her husband, Jean Fischbacher, at their farm, “Bramafam”, in Chateau-Neuf de Grasse in Province off and on for several years. Julia and Paul Child had a house on the same property and often they were there at the same time. It was usually during the fall.
I was working with Simca but, of course all of our paths crossed throughout the day. We often ate dinner on the terrace under the olive trees laden with their fruit.
One afternoon I was in Simca’s house alone and when the phone rang, I answered it and was poised with pencil in hand to take a message for either Simca or Jean. “Allô ” and then came that distinctive, musical voice, ” Oh, Dearie, it’s Julia …… pause…..Child.” She had no clue that there was never a question as to who was calling and added her last name to distinguish herself from any other ‘Julias’ that I might know. And she said it the same way every time she telephoned. I loved her humility. I loved that so much.” (see Emily’s favorite Julia recipe at the bottom).
This you tube video of Julia and David Letterman is hilarious… and showcases how she just rolled with the punches, no matter what.
Following are some of Julia’s most famous quotes… I particularly love the ones about how everyone is so deathly afraid of food and how one should learn how to cook….
“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed — eh bien, tant pis! Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile — and learn from her mistakes.”
“I think one of the terrible things today is that people have this deathly fear of food: fear of eggs, say, or fear of butter. Most doctors feel that you can have a little bit of everything.”
“I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it — and, more important, I like to give it.”
“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a Valentine as you can give.”
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”
“Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”
“Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”
Emily’s Favorite Julia Child recipe: (so it’s a little wavy… the page numbers are 610, 584 and 585 , so you can look it up in your own copy of Julia’s most famous cookbook).