I love to cook. My grandmother taught me how to cook. She thought boys should know how to sew on a button and how to cook. The first thing she taught me to prepare was a casserole she called her “Chi-nee” noodle dish. Easy to put together, I made it at least a hundred and fifty-three times. Though I no longer eat meat, canned peas, or Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, I still remember the recipe. Gramma’s banana bread was a favorite. She showed me, step by step, how she made it. What else is there to do with overripe bananas?

My interest in cooking continued into adulthood. As I became more experienced, I discovered the joy of experimentation and the wonder of new tastes and textures.

Julia Child entered my life in the late 60s. A born again francophile with an undergraduate degree in French, it was love at first sight. Julia visited my home, as she visited the homes of a multitude of adoring fans, for nearly ten years as The French Chef. In the 70s and 80s she arrived in different incarnations: Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company, and Dinner at Julia’s.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking I and II are classics that can be read cover to cover. I bought both JC & Co. cookbooks, From Julia Child’s Kitchen, and others, the titles of which I no longer remember. I made pâté, Hollandaise sauce, soufflés, quiches, and quenelles. I loved replicating Julia’s recipes and processes. I enjoyed the pursuit of ingredients and tools. In the 70s, both ingredients and tools were difficult to come by. Few supermarket produce sections carried arugula and Williams Sonoma was hardly a household name.

My Life in France is a charming memoir of the life Julia and Paul Child shared in France and of Julia’s introduction to la cuisine française. Noel Riley Fitch’s Appetite for Life is an absorbing biography that explores the forces, events, and experiences that shaped the life of Julia Child making her the extraordinary woman she was.

When Julia Child died on Friday, August 13, 2004, I felt as if I had lost a family member. The following morning, The Los Angeles Times Calendar section carried a feature article by Times Staff Writer Elaine Woo. The article spoke lovingly of Julia as a “towering figure in the culinary world” who “woke Americans up to the pleasures of cooking.” The article concludes with a quotation that is quintessentially Julia: “To me, the kitchen has never stopped being a place just full of possibilities and pleasures.”

Possibilities and pleasures. The kitchen. The ingredients. What would Julia do?

Indeed. What would Julia do? I created a poster that reminds me of the possibilities and pleasures of my kitchen.

0 thoughts on “WWJD

  1. iola

    I love it! I am a Julia fan too.
    I always receive Barnes and Noble gift cards for my birthday and Christmas from my husband ( what more could I ask for?) and several years ago I bought “My Life in France” and loved every line of it. Of course then I bought Mastering the Art of French cooking. I am making a note of Appetite for Life to buy and read. Thank you for this enjoyable post.

  2. Annis

    Neat post, Dennis. I like how you tied in the memory of your grandmother teaching you to cook.

    I love to cook, too, especially when I have time and people to enjoy the food. One of my book groups read My Life in France. It was a favorite.


  3. Joan Raymond

    I love Mark’s comment. And yes Dennis, you did solve one of life’s great mysteries with this post!

    I used to watch Julia cook on PBS each week. I loved the sound of her voice and how she just could make something so amazing with style. She definitely was a woman of style. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Davyd Morris

    I have been a Julia fan ever since I was a child. What she did in the kitchen was nothing like the experience with my mother (dear Mom would understand). I had the privilege of meeting Miss Julia at a book signing in McLean, Virginia (near Washington, DC) at a book signing in the early Nineties. She autographed her cookbook, and since the event was shockingly under-attended (it was a weeknight) I tried to be clever and witty. I came across as strange and weird, I’m sure. Luckily, my wife picked up the fumble; they had both attended Smith College, an all-women’s school in Massachusetts, and had a moment of sisterly bonding. Rescued again. She was kind and very impressive–actually, they both were.

    1. Dennis Post author

      What a thrill to meet Julia. A master at fumble recovery, I’m sure she would have recognized well intended cleverness and wit. The experience sounds like an excellent topic for a blog post. I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Terry Redman

    Dennis, I have enjoyed this blog, and the ones before, and marvel at how seamlessly you weave one idea to another. Good job. I’m not much of a cook, more the plain baked chicken, salad and cereal for breakfast kind of a guy. I took over the cooking in the 12 years between my retirement and Linda’s so I am pretty used to putting together a meal. Now that I’ve gone vegetarian my salads are better, simple but better. TR

    1. Dennis Post author

      Terry, you point out aspects of my writing in don’t consider. Thank you for your insight and encouragement.

      About cooking: In my opinion, simple is better. Becoming a vegetarian certainly simplified my cooking.


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