Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child

Born 100 years ago today. While I continue to adore her original show The French Chef... it still holds up to this day, and is more entertaining than any number of Food Network mainstays... her influence on my cooking was mostly indirect (The French Chef stopped filming new episodes before I was even born). I own Mastering the Art of French Cooking and consult it as a reference fairly often, but I don't typically cook from it. For the most part this is because she wrote it working under the assumptions of a 60's American kitchen that didn't have access to as many ingredients as we do today. In addition, despite the fact that her descriptions of techniques are amazing and the accompanying illustrations quite beautiful... for the most part I try to find a YouTube video showing an unfamiliar method instead of deciphering it from her cookbook. That said, it's hard to imagine a person with a greater impact on the current state of our food culture. Deplore how few people cook at home and how bad our diet is all you want, but I have little problem concluding it would be (roughly) a million times worse without Julia Child. At the very least there would be a lot more tuna casseroles. I think she helped stem the tide of disappearing family meals by showing people how easy it could be, while simultaneously inspiring latchkey kids raised on boxed macaroni and cheese that there was something more out there.