Happy Birthday, Julia Child!
Like Julia, I was raised in Pasadena, albeit in a different era–but let me say that enough of the past lingered to understand why she wanted to leave (or why I believe she wanted to leave, though I couldn’t say for sure). I loved growing up in Pasadena for reasons I won’t go into here, and I wanted to get away as quickly as I could. So there you go.
I do not cook (I’m more of an assembler, that is to say, I’m a salad and sandwich maven). I did attempt cooking at one point in my life and was politely to asked by any and all who sat at my table, not to repeat the attempt. So I did the next best thing, and married an incredible cook who had worked as a professional chef.
While I did not in any way emulate Ms. Child in the kitchen, I did in another area of her life which is represented by this homemade valentine (anyone who knows John and me will know what I mean). I had always thought it was such a cool idea to send valentines to friends instead of Christmas cards. I once thought, many many years ago, that John and I would follow suit (he was unaware of this decision) but didn’t follow through because, really, isn’t Julia Child a hard enough act to follow?
One evening, my friend Esme and I were at South Coast Plaza in Orange County, when we noticed a rather long line coming out of the door of Rizzoli’s bookstore–which was a wonderful bookstore. We discovered that Julia Child was signing copies of her new book "The Way To Cook" and decided to get in line. Neither of us cooked, but we had both grown up with Julia Child on TV.
A representative of the store told everyone in line that they were hold out their book, have Julia sign and move on. That she would not dedicate any of her signings was a disappointment since I was buying the book for John. It was in the spirit of maintaining absolute silence and no requests that I came to be standing in front of Julia. She watched me for a minute, with my book open before her, as if she expected me to say something. I wanted to; I think she would’ve signed it to John but I chickened out. It was a moment where I was thinking, This is Julia Child and Wow, she’s tall. Even sitting you could tell how big she was. After she signed, she waited, watching me again. (I have to say there were many people in front of me and many behind me, so I was aware of the need to keep things moving.) She seemed unconcerned with the line and asked, “How are you?” in that trademark trill. I think I mumbled, Fine, before blurting, “I think you’re great!” And she said, with a smile, “And you’re very nice.”
John loved the book, which is a First Edition, signed (though not to John), and a mess from all the years of use. The dust jacket is stained and spotted and worn; all the edges of the pages are stained. When you see it and realize the value of a signed First Edition w/dust jacket of what I believe was her bestselling book, then see the years it has spent in our various kitchens through all the stains and the occasional warped page and tiny tears, you have to think to yourself, this is how she would’ve wanted it.