“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world
To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”
The Buddha -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Julia Child

I used to watch Julia Child's cooking shows on television and always enjoyed the way she performed.  She seemed so comfortable, having lots of fun, even sloppy sometimes, and her love for cooking was contagious.

So last year when a friend told me about Julia Child's book 'My Life in France'.  I read and loved it.  Her adventures with food in France, her love for the land and people made me want to go back for a culinary tour.  "Oh, how I adored sweet and natural France, with its human warmth, wonderful smells, graciousness, coziness and freedom of spirit."

Besides the food, the other fascinating thing about 'My Life in France'  to me was the friendship between Julia and Avis De Voto which resulted from a letter that she wrote to Avis's husband, the historian and journalist Bernard De Voto in responding to his Harper's article about the sorry state of stainless steel knife in the American kitchen.  Avis De Voto answered her husband's mail to Julia and this sparked a 35 years friendship. Avis also played an important role in having Julia's revolutionary 'Master the Art of French Cooking' published. 

This friendship led me to the next book 'As Always, Julia' which is a collection of letters between Julia and Avis from 1953 to 1988.  In reading this book i found myself continuously underlying/checking/noting, just like when i was in college.  This book is not only about food but about culture, people that make great food possible, the unyielding effort to make excellent dishes but also a peek into American history after WWII such as the hipocrisy of the McCarthy's era and the changes that were taking place in the American kitchen.  

A great meal could change one's life, according to Julia Child in 'My Life in France', and I cannot agree more.  A great meal to me is more than satisfying the taste bud.  Taste is only one part of it.  A great meal gives me a sense of gratitude toward the chef for expressing his/her love for the ingredients and respect where they came from.  The ingredients, sourced from farms tended with labor of love from the stewards of the land really connect me with mother earth, the one that nourishes us.  I could not help appreciating and consider eating as a sacred act and reading Julia Child's books re-enforced this thought in me.

"The pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite — toujours bon appétit!" --- Julia Child

Additional Readings:

"The Paring Knife at the Crossroad' - Bernard Augustine De Voto

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