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Julia Child's 100th anniversary of her birth


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When I was growing up (and still am!) I remember running home from school to watch channel 32 WFLD in Chicago. Julia was on at 3:30, The Galloping Gourmet was 4:00, and Speed Racer was 4:30. That was the best 90 minutes of television a 10-year-old could have!

 

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Some of Julia Child's greatest fans can be found among the North American members of Les Dames d'Escoffier International – an organization made up of leading women in the food and wine industries. It was formed in the 1970's in response to the all-male, fine-dining association Les Amis d’Escoffier Society. At that time, say Les Dames d'Escoffier, "there were no prominent women chefs or sommeliers, few female restaurateurs and no women allowed as wait staff in fine-dining establishments."

 

Not surprisingly, the larger-than-life figure of Julia Child, who'd begun her TV career in 1962, was a source of inspiration. Not only did she love to cook – and eat – she also delighted in drinking wine. A "Saturday Night Live" skit in the '70s featured Dan Aykroyd as a drunken chef who dismembered herself with her own utensils; Child was, of course, the chef being skewered.

 

Child's husband, Paul, said that on TV, the glass Julia was seen holding often contained water dyed with beef extract, rather than wine. It was he who had introduced her to the delights of French food and wine. Said Julia: "I'd never eaten like that before. I didn't know such food existed. I'd never really drunk good wine before, and knew nothing at all about it. It was simply a whole new life experience."

 

In honor of the 100th anniversary of her birth on August 15, Les Dames d'Escoffier are holding a swathe of special events.

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When she died, I honored her by taking up one of her books and letting her teach me how to make a cheese soufflé. It was a brilliant success. Maybe tonight I'll up my game and make a spinach soufflé.

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Planning to do a Julia Child dinner in the early fall - looking at 16 recipes for a tasting menu style dinner. Would have scheduled it for last weekend or this coming weekend, but thought it would be better after the summer since it would allow for more versatile selections.

 

Ten years ago, when we were still doing our massive Christmas Wine Tasting Festival, I prepared 57 of Julia's recipes from all of her books (both savory and dessert). It was received quite well.

 

If there's interest in attending the tasting this fall, let me know.

 

It should be fun.

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Rich I'm sure your dinner will be amazing, though having experienced the size of your tasting menus I think sixteen courses sounds a bit frightening!

 

I enjoyed the Pepin piece in the NYTimes. I like the book they did together. And I still go back to Mastering the Art for certain recipes, the cheese souffle being one of them.

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Seth - the portions will be smaller, promise. :lol:

 

Sneak - you were going to be invited anyway. :cool:

 

Thinking of starting in the late afternoon (5pm-ish), so to make sure there's a comfortable pace.

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When she died, I honored her by taking up one of her books and letting her teach me how to make a cheese soufflé. It was a brilliant success. Maybe tonight I'll up my game and make a spinach soufflé.

 

 

Rich I'm sure your dinner will be amazing, though having experienced the size of your tasting menus I think sixteen courses sounds a bit frightening!

 

I enjoyed the Pepin piece in the NYTimes. I like the book they did together. And I still go back to Mastering the Art for certain recipes, the cheese souffle being one of them.

 

In response to the Diners Journal query for "what Julia recipes do you keep cooking?" a lot of people have mentioned the cheese soufflé. Looking back at the whole section, I can understand why.

 

A lot have also mentioned the reine de Saba cake (including me). Kinda gives me hope that maybe there are still people who prefer smaller desserts to the massive multilayer extravaganzas of the type magazines highlight.

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I can't think of any specific recipe from Mastering that I still use, but I feel that I absorbed so much from her that many of the dishes I think I'm improvising have their origins in that book. I do make the parsnip puree from Julia Child and Company and sometimes the roast duck with cracklings that it is supposed to accompany. I recommend the parsnip dish highly. The duck dish, too.

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