Julia Child Haunts the Sneak

Aug 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm
Julia Child Haunts the Sneak
Fernando de Sousa, Wikimedia Commons
Julia Child is haunting me.

In full disclosure, I invited her in. I just didn't realize that beloved, deceased TV chefs followed roughly the same rules as vampires. Man, that is going to be no good for Mario Batali. That gentleman has stringent minimum garlic requirements.

Here's the deal: I was going to make a delightful recipe from one of Julia Child's books to sneak into Julie & Julia, the new partial biopic about Julie Powell, a blogger (who later collected her blog as a book) who cooked her way through Julia Child's seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year, intercut with scenes of how Julia actually got to be, well, Julia. See what I was doing there? I was going to write a blog about sneaking food into a movie about a book about a blog about a book about making food.

I had prepared charts.

click to enlarge Julia Child Haunts the Sneak
User "MDCarchives," Wikimedia Commons
But I ran into a snag looking for a suitable recipe. The whole point of French cooking is that it's difficult to transport. Soufflé will fall. Beurre blanc will congeal. Ever tried to get homemade Hollandaise out of the liner fabric of a purse? Avoid. If it were up to the French, the secrets and complexities of French cooking wouldn't just be safe from heathen shores, they'd never leave the table. Encountering problems with substantive food preparation, a movie-unfriendly cough, and one-armed dining companion, I opted for the exotic charms of roti and ripped abs.

To me, this was not a big deal. I don't ever remember seeing Julia Child's actual show on TV and have absorbed a knowledge of her as I think most people have, through marination in the general culture. There have been a feast of writings and interviews following Julie & Julia, and the common thread seems to be that people always imagined her in the kitchen with them as they cooked, imagined having a conversation with her.

Where I come from, nobody in the kitchen sounds like Julia Child. They all sound like Paula Deen, down to the butter-explosion recipes they oversee and the glorious shifting vowels of a hearty "Y'all come eat! S'gettin' cold, now!" The closest I've ever come to an imagined conversation with Julia Child is a running gag I once had with a roommate about dropping things in the kitchen. We both cooked quite a bit, frequently as the formidable tag team Iron Chef Sandwich (him) and Iron Chef Omelette (me), and whenever one of us would fumble or decide to try to make the other laugh, we would adopt the vocal tone of a turkey pretending to be a British aristocrat and bray:

And remember, you're the only one in the kitchen. Bwo ho ho ho ho!

It was funny, not accurate. Mostly funny because it was so inaccurate.