6.17.2008

Lots of Food, Part II

I went to a panel discussion at the New School last week on Julia Child, and it was fascinating, inspiring stuff. Check out the line-up: Joan Reardon, Judith Jones, Laura Shapiro, and Molly O’Neill. And if you don’t know who these people are, I urge you to do some Googling. Each speaker was engaging and interesting, full to the brim with funny stories and anecdotes about Julia Child.

One of the many things I appreciated was that Molly O’Neill shared that Julia’s public persona was not an act – Julia was funny and brassy and a complete “goofball”. Molly also mentioned how lucky Julia was to have an editor that encouraged her to be “real”; to which Judith Jones replied that Julia was incredibly humble and Judith absolutely had to encourage Julia to let her personality show.


Additionally, I believe it was Laura who talked about Julia’s “conversion experience” in France. Likewise, Alice Waters and MFK Fisher had experiences of their own in France. Laura described it as that moment when a person is turned on to and discovers a whole new way of eating, cooking, and enjoying food. To the point when your whole life changes in reaction to your experience. This experience gives you a new gold standard by which all other food is measured. Hearing this was like a bell going off in my head. I had a “conversion experience.” My best friend had a “conversion experience.” I daresay that all the people I know who are deeply passionate and excited about food had such an experience. I want to sit in a room with 20 people and share our conversion experiences because each one would be so different, informed by such diverse backgrounds. But I love the idea of something clicking in one’s head as they take that first delectable bite…and you’ll never be the same again.

Lastly, one thing that Molly said struck me (because Molly was a hilarious and interesting speaker): Julia, for better or for worse, made cooking a white-collar experience, whereas it was once a blue-collar industry. I don't enough about the history of cooking and restaurants to comment on Molly's statement; nevertheless, I do find that an interesting point and it has inspired me to do more research to find out when that change took place. Because Molly is right: certainly in America, cooking is, to some degree, a white-collar activity. I guess that this is in large part, particularly in recent months, because of the price of "good" food. But how does Julia Child fit into this? I don't know yet...but I'm reading more to find out...

1 comment:

Susan T. said...

Have you read Judith Jones' book? I really liked it.