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LJI: My Mount Rushmore

The shades of black, white, and grey on the screen looks weird to this kid raised on Hanna-Barbara's and Sid and Marty Kroft's psychadelic Saturday morning color palatte, but I can't look away.  I'm tall "for a girl" (a phrase I hate), but she is simply TALL.  A giantess in the kitchen.  I want her pearls.  More importantly, I want to mess something up and be able to shrug it off and keep going.

Julia Child.  I sit, transfixed, by reruns of The French Chef when I can convince the grownups that it is my turn to pick out the Saturday morning shows my sister and I watch.  The foods are so familiar--potatoes, onions, carrots, chicken--but prepared in such a different way than I see when I am standing on a stool in the kitchen  next to Grandma.  But I insist on talking in a funny accent while I scrub carrots and potatoes, learn to cut onions under her watchful eye...and happily let her deal with the chicken, because it grosses me out a little.

One day, I promise myself, I will be brave like Julia and touch that icky, cold, pink thing.  But i'm little yet, and can flee the kitchen any time I want.

Years come and go.  I graduate from vegetables to making fruit salad all by myself ("be careful with the can opener, kitten, and just drain all of the juice in the glass so you can drink it with your snack.  Let me know when you need the marshmellows") to rolls to, yes, finally touching that icky, cold, pink thing.  Look at me, Julia!

While I'm graduating to making meals for the family all by myself, the Saturday reruns have moved and the debate between Scooby snacks and coq au vin has vanished.  I'm a little affronted by the fact that my giantess in the kitchen is in color now.  It seems weird.  In black and white, it was just the two of us, laughing over potato disasters and chicken that seems to have a mind of its own.  I'm not happy, but I dutifully jot down recipes in a 3 section, 5 by 8 spiral notebook, just like Great Grandma and Granma do.

I learn how to make French onion soup, but I'm not happy about it.  And you can just forget about me learning how to debone a duck, Julia.  Chicken is one thing, but that looks PURPLE and has webbed feet.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

At some point, I'm going to learn to quit drawing that line in the culinary sand with Julia.  It's just pointless.

Being 30 and having an existential crisis that eventually ends in a wildly popular blog, a book deal, and a film is one thing.  Being 30, in the middle of a nasty divorce, moving in with your grandparents, and having what little contents of your kitchen that you were allowed to take is quite another.  However, the wise librarian who has known me since I was spending the summers in the free air conditioning, copying recipes out of cookbooks right next to Grandma, suggests a book.  "We just got this in.  I think it would be a fun read for you."

Holy fuck!  There is someone as neurotic and Julia obsessed as I am!  And she survived her dark night of the soul by the power of Julia. (And got a book contract out of it, damnit)  Seester!  Time to unpack the tiny box of kitchen supplies, cook the pain out, and convince grandma that shallots aren't evil.  Julie, Julia, and me...we got this.

Of all the things I need in life, a terra cotta vegetable roaster is probably not one.  Nor is the cute owl print bag or the tiny purple dragon who shall be named Puff.  Might as well swing by the dvds and see how much more damage I can do.  That's what thrift stores are for, right?

The French Chef Collection 1.  The French Chef Collection 2.

Forty years.  I am in the best place I have ever been.  And here she is, waiting for me.  Again.  Like always.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
static_abyss
Oct. 13th, 2018 10:26 pm (UTC)
it was great following along in your narrative and getting to a point where you're cooking again. much luck to you in your cooking adventures.
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
wantedonvoyage
Oct. 14th, 2018 01:59 pm (UTC)
I'm not fond of handling raw chicken either.
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:43 pm (UTC)
I've gotten used to it over the years, but I STILL can't handle duck. Thank the gods it is so expensive.
maju01
Oct. 14th, 2018 06:22 pm (UTC)
This is a great story.
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
weebleswobble
Oct. 14th, 2018 09:48 pm (UTC)
*warm fuzzy smiles*
adoptedwriter
Oct. 15th, 2018 10:26 pm (UTC)
I have a pretty good French onion soup technique. This reminded me of that. Also I cook best like my grandma...bit o this, a bit o dat...nothing written down...I miss her chili the most...
eternal_ot
Oct. 16th, 2018 03:41 pm (UTC)
This was FUNtastic! I like the tone of this piece and it made me smile a few times. Good luck with the cooking :)
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
murielle
Oct. 17th, 2018 03:25 am (UTC)
I have a vague memory of seeing her on TV once--I was very young. But I have been in love with Julie and Julia since the very first time I saw it.

This is an absolute treat! Brava! Well done!
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:46 pm (UTC)
I found a copy of the movie in PTA Thrift (where I also got the dvds of Julia's show AND a copy of "My Life In France" I think she watches over that place and saves the good stuff for me!). Whenever I am stressed and hate my life, I pop it in the dvd player.
ellison
Oct. 17th, 2018 11:03 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful and fun to read, too! (And I'm jealous, as I didn't have the learning to cook stuff in my childhood that most people I know did! GAHH! I'm 37 and still consider myself a beginner in the kitchen, but I'm getting better!!)
mac_arthur_park
Oct. 18th, 2018 06:57 pm (UTC)
It's never too late. I'm just now taking baby steps towards learning how to bake at 45. You've got this!
bewize
Oct. 18th, 2018 09:27 pm (UTC)
I loved this so much! I can relate to the joys of finding yourself in cooking and it seems like even more fun if you have Julia Child with you on the journey!
halfshellvenus
Oct. 19th, 2018 07:15 am (UTC)
Such and unusual choice for a child to idolize! It makes me think of some young kids I knew whose obsession was Norm-- as in, the guy from "This Old House" who actually did the construction and carpentry. He wasn't exciting, but he was unflappable and competent, and he had tools! So many tools...

I loved the internal conversations with Julia, and the gradual taking back of the mantle of adventures in kitchenry inspired by Julia so long ago.
encrefloue
Oct. 19th, 2018 05:53 pm (UTC)
Delightful writing. It's clear how Julia's plucky attitude has made an impact! May I ask why "seester" instead of "sister"? "Seester" used to be an inside joke between my sister and me, so I was curious if there is a common derivation.
alycewilson
Oct. 19th, 2018 09:25 pm (UTC)
Sorry. Thatvkast comment was me!
imagine_peace
Oct. 19th, 2018 09:35 pm (UTC)
I love this.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )