A Memory of Julia from K. Dun Gifford
Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. Today is a day in which we celebrate a woman who changed the world of food as we knew it. We honor Julia by sharing a passage from The Oldways Table, written by Oldways' founder, the late K. Dun Gifford.
In the 1980s I was deeply into the restaurant business, and during these years my food, wine and cookery educators were formidable.
Chief among them was Julia Child, a friend for two decades. We both had knee replacements, for example, and visited each other in the hospital. Another time, when she was immobilized at home from a back operation, I picked up a double order of her favorite hot french fries from her favorite fast food joint (shh: it was McDonald’s) and rushed with them to her house, stirred the cocktail-hour, on-the-rocks gin martinis all set up on a big tray she’d had her assistant lay out in her pantry, and carried all of it up to her bedroom. We ate the french fries and drank the martinis (two for each), and caught up on “the news.”
She joined my family for Thanksgiving dinner (my children were terrified about whether she’d like our favorite gravy, and she did), for regular dinners and dinner parties, and we went out together to restaurant dinners with friends. She loved to talk politics, and we had a wonderful time about what was happening in the White House. We agreed on just about everything except the nutrition police (even though she ate the kind of nutritionally-balanced meals most nutritionists dream that everyone would eat), and also the Alar/apple imbroglio (she was more right than I was, but only marginally).
We lunched in her kitchen from time to time, too, where she almost always made an omelet while toasting toast in the oven broiler, tossed a green salad with vinaigrette, set out a fruit and cheese plate, while I poured two glasses of very cold white wine. This was classic Julia: a few bites of a simple but elegant lunch, a bite of business, a bite of gossip, a bite of politics. It was a regular routine for her, a way of keeping up with her friends when her knees went south and it was not easy for her to get out. Her ease in the kitchen was of course astounding, but one thing always puzzled me: she never once missed on getting the toast just right, and she never used a timer. Julia had a strong influence on me—not only about recipes and cooking techniques, but about food, its culture, finding excellence in simplicity, and enjoying mealtimes as a celebration of life.