August 1912- August 2004Thursday was Julia Child’s birthday. Thank you, PBS, you make me happy by keeping her alive. I cook along with her and learn plenty. Julia says fix your mistakes or learn to live with them. And she does – with savoir faire.
Julia’s an expert plucker, skinner, and de-boner. I watch her cut up a chicken, loosen skin from flesh, and pull bones out of a goose. She stirs two pots simultaneously and has such a jolly time doing it that I, too, cook with a spoon in each hand.
Her humor and appetite for la cuisine francaise is contagious. As much as she is devoted to the “rules” of French cooking, she revels in culinary exploration. Her sense of wonder and inquisitiveness inspire me whenever I reach for a copper pot. As her recipes grow bolder, so do mine – tender escargot bobbling in garlicky butter and musky truffles redolent of earth. Pure Flavorful Heaven. Ouf!
But Julia is more than the Master of French Cooking. She is A Writer. No stranger to the arduous writing process, the cut-and-dried business end of publishing, the seven hundred pages that need pruning. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was her Labor of Love. Julia’s tome needed a good final edit. As writing teachers remind us, it’s not volume ~ it’s precision. So when Julia’s editor said her book was unpublishable – too big, too expensive, too elaborate – she murdered some of her darlings. Tons were ‘killed’ but not discarded. Julia saved those foolproof recipes for subsequent books. Limaces, for another day. (Don’t slugs sound lovelier in French?)
Julia used tons of French phrases ~ it is French cooking, after all. Writing gurus suggest keeping foreign phrases to a minimum but I fling around Italian words like Julia whips out Charlotte Malakoffs. What isn’t better with a little brio?
Julia inspires legions of cooks like me who muck about in the kitchen. We do so care what she made for lunch, however daunting it seems. For bloggers, though, writerly inspiration comes from readers.
So, Bloggers, take a breath, back away from the stats (yes, we eyeball ours, like just you :)) and add a new chum to your online community. Meet our Newest Friend, #1001, poet Dennis Cardiff. He isn’t cataloguing his pantry shelves or obsessing over finding the perfect microplane. He’s just mucking about with words. Bon Appétit.