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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time Travel Cooking with Julia

Sayre gives us a very intriguing "What if" assignment for this week's Fun Monday. It goes like this: if you had a week with no obligation and money was no object, what would you do with it? Going with the "first thing that comes to mind being the best answer, I decided to do a little time travel back to the 1950s and spend the week in Paris cooking with Julia Child.

Seeing the film Julie and Julia (starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams) recently reminded me about how much I was influenced by Julia Child as a college student in the mid-1960s. I was sometimes called Julia because of my enthusiasm for cooking and entertaining. Forty years later I wonder what happened to that person. Now the idea of cooking and entertaining gives me the bends. In 1965 I was a college freshman majoring in English and home economics. The English was no surprise because I excelled in it in high school. The home economics studies was the result my living arrangements that first year of college. Growing up poor in the country I learned to cook very simple food, never anything that required a recipe. The closest my family ever came to entertaining would be to invite someone home on Sunday for an after church dinner. In my freshman year I left the dorm to live with a young family off campus as a mother's helper. They had three small children and a busy social life tied into the university. There were many opportunities to use the cooking and "gracious living" skills I was learning in my home economics classes. The family and my friends--still stuck in the dorm--were willing guinea pigs for my everyday meals and candlelit dinner parties.

I have a collection of letters written to my older sister from college and most of them contain accounts of meals cooked, parties planned and executed, techniques learned in classes. Here's a sample:

-- "Dear Sis, Wasn't I really tickled to get my new cookbook. . .have about decided that I like it better than Better Homes and Gardens. I'd love to try that mahogany chiffon cake but it takes 7 eggs." January 27, '66

-- "Thursday night five of my sidekicks came over and I fixed a spaghetti dinner for us. We ate in the dining room by candlelight. It was fun." March 14, '66

-- "When I got home from class today Shirley and some of her women's club friends were in the kitchen working on the decorations for the women's club dinner we're having here. I'm helping prepare the meal and do the table decorations." May 6, '66

-- "Last night three girls and I from my foods class gave a dinner for our teachers in the home management house. We used white tablecloths with pink dogwood centerpieces. I fixed the chicken--dipped it in evaporated milk then rolled in cornflake crumbs and baked (it was the 60s!). It was 9:30 when I got home because we had to wash dishes and wash and iron the linens." May 23, '66

-- "Here's the recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies that I made this afternoon. They're tinted pale green and rolled in confectioner's sugar. Very pretty for a party. This afternoon I made a table centerpiece from fall leaves in a copper pot. We'll use it Saturday for the homecoming brunch Shirl and I are giving before the game." October 13, '66

-- "From now on I have to fix supper all by myself on Thursday night because Shirl has Brownie Scout meetings from 3 to 5:30. I'm gonna really do it up brown--you know--fix different things we've never had and do it all myself so that I can learn to be organized about the whole thing. Steve will be so thrilled to eat my experiments for supper when he gets home from baseball practice." November 1, '66

While studying and practicing classic cooking techniques, I also watched Julia Child as The French Chef on television. I learned from her that excellent cooking and entertaining involves practice, practice, practice. When Julia enrolled in the Cordon Bleu in Paris in the 1950s she wanted to learn about French culture through its food. Later on she became passionate about teaching Americans about French cooking through her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show. In my perfect week that Sayre allows us, I'd love to work alongside Julia at the Cordon Bleu learning how to make the perfect roast chicken and chocolate mousse. After class we'd go shopping in the Paris fresh markets and then spend the afternoon in her small apartment preparing dinner for a group of friends.

Now be sure to check out other Fun Monday fantasy weeks. I've read a few posts already and all I can say is we're a mixed bag of interests!

12 comments:

Jan n Jer said...

That sounds like a great fantasy Faye. I love to entertain also. I especially love to do tea parties with the china and lace and dainty sandwiches and scones with devonshire cream and lemon curd. I never really watched Julia Childs, but I know she is a great influence on the cooking show scenes.
In answer to your questions on my post....I like Gloria Vanderbilt designs, mostly casual and colors of blues, greens and earth tones.

The Church Lady said...

I want to see that movie! Your week long fantasy sounds neat! Secretly, I hate to cook, but, love to entertain. When I set my mind to it, I can usually cook up a delicious fancy dish. I can just picture you and Julia laughing and sampling away!

Thank you so much for your kind comments, Faye. You are a gem!

Sayre said...

That sounds SO cool! I think spending a week with Julia Child would be amazing! I am not much of a cook, and I stand in awe of people who can do that. You and Julia would have had so much fun!

BS said...

Great fantasy

Gattina said...

Oh no, that's nothing for me ! even with all the money of the world, spending my time with cooking ??? Although I love to cook, but for a week I would do something else, lol!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Thanks for sharing, Faye! (And thanks for the link too - I don't think you sent it before, and I will definitely check it out!)

I also hate to cook, and the idea of entertaining makes me want to hide under the bed with the cats. So I'm a LONG way from Julie & Julia *sigh* Great post, thank you!

PS - yes, it does get very discouraging when I think about the sheer number of animals who need new homes. Our house is full now, and 3 of our 4 were homeless animals. I guess the way I look at it is, I keep passing the word on. That way, that's one more chance that the animal has, one more set of eyes and ears that will learn about the animal. And who knows, those eyes and ears might just belong to the perfect forever home. It's kind of like going on a lottery-ticket-buying blitz the day of the PowerBall, but I figure it's better than nothing. Thanks for your comment, as always!

Debs said...

I can't wait to see this movie, it sounds wonderful.

I love the idea of your fantasy. I think mine would be to go back 70 or so years and travel around my island to see what it looked like then, as it's changing all the time.

Cher said...

Hi Faye! I wanted to stop by and say thanks for visiting my blog. Fun Monday seems to be, well fun! LOL About your question on the template I choose. I like it fine with a few exceptions. I will have to someday change the header and title to something not so bland, and I don;t like that it deletes the normal blogger headers from the top of the main page. Other than that I like it a lot. :-)

wendishness said...

Wow what an amazing way to spend your week, I think something like that would be an incredible experience.

Pamela said...

I was so glad to hear that someone else has the same feelings as I do. I never had any problems with entertaining when I was working full time and raising a family --etc.

Now, I just gulp and say stuff like 'Hey lets go out for dinner." ha ha ha.

Your letters were wonderful.

Swampwitch said...

Love your fantasy week. When you do prepare all these dishes, please call !

prashant said...

I hate to cook, but, love to entertain. When I set my mind to it, I can usually cook up a delicious fancy dish.
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