Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Memories of Julia Child

I just saw the movie Julie & Julia (most enjoyable) then went to the Left Bank Brasserie for a French dinner (yum) with my pals Phyllis and Alan (read about my earlier dinner at the Left Bank here). The movie brought back some nice memories.

I met Julia Child once at Copia: the American Center for Food, Wine, and Art (sadly, now closed) in the Napa Valley in 2001. She was old then, but still spirited; she embodied joie de vivre and the movie captured that side of her. I was a senior writer with Sunset Magazine, and part of a media group that helped clelebrate the opening of the ambitious food/art museum; also at my table: artist Wayne Thiebaud, one of America's leading painters. Famous for his whimsical paintings of pies and cakes, Thiebaud explained his choice of subjects to me this way. "If you don't have a sense of humor, you don't have perspective."

It was quite a day. I could see that simply showing up was an effort for the then-89-year-old Ms. Child (her health was not strong in her final years), but that she was determined to be a part of the day. She had given her support to the museum, and to Robert Mondavi, the leading force behind the museum (and himself, a force of nature--in his 80s then). They named the restaurant after her: Julia's Kitchen.

The next event I attended at Copia was a celebration of Julia Child's life, shortly after the death of the most famous foodie of them all. So many celebrities of the food and wine industry were in attendence, I couldn't keep track of them all. But one did stand out: Martha Stewart came (even though she was then embroiled in her famed insider trading court case --which would ultimately send her to jail). No matter. Ms. Stewart took the time to fly cross country and stand up for Julia. Impressive.

In her memorable talk, Stewart explained how Julia Child touched so many lives in the food industry. As I recall-this was back in 2004- Stewart said that she and Child had met only a few times, but Stewart was a big fan of Child's. One thing I'm certain of: Martha Stewart said that in her early years she, too, had gone through Child's magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and had cooked every single recipe in the book. I wonder if blogger Julie Powell had ever heard that about Martha Stewart, and thereby got the idea for her own project?

Julia Child, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Mondavi, Martha Stewart. I was walking amongst giants.

1 comment:

ClaireWalter said...

I think every blogger who has seen the movie was inspired to write a post. Mine is at http://culinary-colorado/blogspot.com. I never met Julia but I did see her once from afar at the Food & Wine Classic at Aspen.

COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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