Technically, it’s not until Wednesday, August 15, but it’s not like she’s here to complain. I have a particular love for Julia Child. She’s like a comfortable chair from my youth. I grew up with her on our television set thanks to my mother’s love of cooking, and she introduced her to the effervescent Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet and the wholly-embraceable Jacques Pepin.
My mother was a foodie long before it was chique. A gourmand by nature and self-taught gourmet cook, she digested cookbooks as if they were finely-prepared meals. While she didn’t cotton to the television shows because she needed the printed page in order to create her masterpieces, she still kept them on in the kitchen. The lilting lift in Julie Child’s voice, that unique timbre, always brings a smile to my face. My mother thought it was affected, which she didn’t care for, but she had to acknowledge that this woman brought French cooking mainstream and right into her kitchen.
Thanks to her, our table that was once graced with tuna noodle casserole in the late 1950s, magically transformed to hosting Coq au Vin, potato croquettes, Paupiettes de Veaux and Potage aux Poireaux. The five mother sauces became a staple and words like “roux” and “mirepoix” peppered her kitchen vocabulary. If something wasn’t fricasseed or sautéed, it was baked en papillote or escalloped. Meals were transformed at the Skomal household, the bar was raised and we never ate another casserole, unless of course, it was a cassoulet.
There’s a Facebook page set up specifically for this centennial celebration. On behalf of my mother and me–Happy Birthday, Chef Child.