Wednesday, May 06, 2009
My [wannabe] Life in France
I am insanely jealous of Julia Child.
And not because she became a world famous chef, had an amazing culinary career, and will now forever be a food legend. Those things are nice and all, but what really gets me is that Julia Child lived in Paris is the late 1940's. Please note that I find that just as important to living in Paris was that time period in which she did- the post WWII era 1940's. This was when most food (in France) still came from small farms, a person of normal means could afford an apartment two blocks from the Seine, no one knew smoking was bad for you, and the Cordon Bleu admitted people with no cooking experience (and still had less than ten people in a class). Oh, not to mention a person could get an amazing meal for two, with wine, for $3.70.
I must admit first off that I have only spent four days in Paris. However, my senses were so alert when I was there- I was really trying to take in every second- that I find I had a very rich experience. I became a true blue Francofile right from the start.
Recently I picked up a copy of Julia Child's biography My Life in France. The book is about moving to Paris with her diplomat husband, and how she began to discover food- namely, French food- and the beginning of her culinary career. As I began to read, I was pleased to see how much of my first experiences with Paris were similar to hers: The total awe of the landscape and the countryside, preferring the food from mid-range restaurants and hole in the walls to l'gourmet, fancy restaruants, and finally the total wonder that anyone could find Parisians to be rude or generally disagreeable in any way.
Our situtation differ, however, in the fact that she got to LIVE THERE! Aaaaahhhh. She got to buy cheese from the woman who knew exactly when a certain piece of camembert would be "ready," she got to learn French by conversing with the vegetable lady who could tell her exactly what she needed for that night's supper. She got to take weekends away in Provence and vacation in Cannes!
Lastly, she got to eat French food every day. She got to get up every morning and buy a cafe au lait and fresh croissant before she went to the Cordon Bleu for her culinary training! Oh to have these experiences. Sadly, I must live vicariously through Mrs. Child's beautifully written and descriptive book. Thankfully she has a vivid memory and is able to describe in detail meals that were eaten 50+ years ago so that I can pretend I am the one eating those meals.
I have been inspired now to pull out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and cook through it from cover to cover like I had determined to so long ago. Thank you, Julia, for all you did!