In the early 1970s, Julia Child, that awkward, unlikely figurehead from the front of the mid-century culinary ship, had me at bonjour. Like many of you, I spent many formative (pre-cable) hours following Julia on PBS, enchanted by her stilted speech, her soap-and-water directness, and her unapologetic rapture in the kitchen.
Years later, in 1988, my college boyfriend and I drove to Virginia so that I could meet his grandmother, Maimie, for the first time. During our visit, she flooded me with stories of her college roommate at Smith, who just happened to be Julia McWilliams (pre-Child). According to the birdlike Maimie, they called each other by the nicknames “Skinny” and “Fatty.” Maimie was the latter. And Julia—or Skinny—was a domestic lost-cause.
But I digress.
Julia would have been 99 this week, and in honor of her royal rightness, HuffPost compiled nine of their favorite episodes of The French Chef, Julia Child & Company and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home. The omelette episode, especially, takes me back to that vinyl couch in our sunroom, where I spent many a Saturday afternoon glued to the set (and the vinyl) as Julia stumbled through sentences and tried to find something to do with her hands when they weren’t actively engaged in pinching dough and swinging a cleaver. Revisiting those clips today feels like opening a window on a breezy fall day. Join me in enjoying them.
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