The incomparable Julia Child. Photo credit: avidly.lareviewofbooks.org

The incomparable Julia Child. Photo credit: avidly.lareviewofbooks.org

Over February break, my grandfather became very ill and moved into our home for 10 days after his release from the hospital. My aunt, my mother’s sister, is a wonderful cook, so she decided to prepare all the meals for our family (with me being her sous chef) while my grandfather was recuperating. Luckily this story has a happy ending. We ate like kings, and my grandparents are safely nestled back in their Narragansett home. But, I do miss making and eating those meals!

One dish stands out: Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon. I must admit I knew little to nothing about the renown chef before then. Since that fateful day I have watched dozens of YouTube videos of Julia making everything from chocolate mousse to cheese soufflé. Her recipes are not fussy, just incredibly detailed. The information is presented in a straightforward manner that makes even the most novice chef feel empowered and capable. However, these are not your simple, three ingredient, one-pot recipes. I had never seen a chunk of unsliced bacon before, and I certainly had never heard of lardons!

I truly fell in love with Julia Child by watching her videos. At 6’2” tall, she was a towering figure, but her sense of humor and her ability to not take herself too seriously were so enamoring. There she was dropping utensils, chuckling as chicken parts slipped out of her hands, and arranging omelettes on a plate with her fingers!

Her story is fascinating. She joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and was a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence Division in Washington, D.C., before being stationed in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) where she met her husband (also in the OSS). After their marriage, her husband joined the U.S. Foreign Service and was stationed in France in 1948. Julia rocked the established French culinary scene with her presence at Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school, and later translated her knowledge to millions of Americans. Everything about her approach to cooking screams, “you can do this!”

Equally important to her was the notion that cooking should be fun, infused with love, and nourishing for the body and soul. Sitting down to a scrumptious beef stew dinner that night was incredible. Knowing that I helped create the amazingly delectable and FRENCH meal made the experience transformative. I realized that preparing food for the ones you love is a valuable life skill and having a great cook in the family is priceless.

Thank you, Julia and Auntie Roxie!

47 Incredible Women to go!