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Posted by aaron at 01:01PM, Monday, December 08th, 2003

Poor Julia

Julia Child died early this morning. We'll miss her -- she seemed to be a rare example of an almost totally positive person, and enriched our lives.

I've started baking a lot of bread lately, based on the recipe in her book The Way to Cook. (That's a great book. Lots of tasty recipes, presented in a much simpler fashion than her earlier, more traditional French cookbooks (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, etc.)) It's made me feel really good -- learning how to make this most basic staple of Western food. Having a connection with your food, understanding how it comes to be, kneeding the dough with your own hands, seeing how few nasty ingredients you really need -- all that is very healthy and affirming, I think, and it's a lot of what her style seemed to be about. Her books are all very instructive, in a pleasing, detailed yet non-patronizing way. I think she set a lot of good examples: leaving the forerunner of the CIA (the intelligence agency, not the cooking school) to attend the Cordon Bleu in mid-life; presenting a strong, creative female role-model in the stifling 50s and 60s; being a very active older woman who still loved to eat... She ate well, she had fun, and she lasted a long time. I hope to be able to host cooking shows when I'm in my late 80s.

I remember, when I was little, watching one of her shows on PBS on Saturdays, just for the entertainment value. I remember my mother telling stories of how when she and my uncle were little kids, they'd make fun of her with the standard joke -- "add a little wine to the chicken, and have a little for yourself, glug glug glug, [giggle]" I remember one of the guys in my dorm in college doing imitations of her on my answering machine. She's one of those very striking television personalities, like Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo, who's imprinted on all our brains; an almost universally warm icon that takes us back to a childhood state of fun and discovery. We'll miss her.
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