Happy 100 to Julia!

Here I am with Julia.  Pictured from left to right Anne  Willan, a famous cooking teacher herself, Julia Child, Riki Senn of the Greenbrier, some woman I can’t remember and ME in Pink.

If Julia Child were still alive today she would be 100 years old.  She made it to 92 years old with great style.  I was lucky enough to take a cooking course from her at the Greenbrier in 2000, which was one of her last classes she taught.

Even though she was 88 years old she was still sharp as a tack, according to the notes in my scrapbook.  She came into the demonstration kitchen where twelve of us sat in rapt attention waiting to hear what fabulous thing she was going to teach us that day.  She sat down at the counter and just started a conversation with us like she was an old friend in our home kitchen.

She said that she was going to teach us “EGGS.”  We were all fairly accomplished cooks and one woman in the room made an audible sigh of disappointment.  That was the last time anyone in the room felt dismay.

With the help of her assistant who just fetched things so Julia could stay seated while cooking, she was 88 for goodness sake; she made 15 egg dishes from soufflés to custards, talking all the while.

I have never learned so much about cooking so quickly.  She answered questions and let us try to flip omelets one handed, which despite most peoples posturing about their cooking skills, they could not do.  She never made anyone feel badly by telling us that if you don’t make mistakes in the kitchen you aren’t learning anything new.

One person asked Julia a question about eggs she did not know the answer to.  It was, “If eggs are sold based on size, Jumbo, extra-large, large, etc. what does the grade, AA, A or B mean?”

Julia quickly said she had no idea.  I raised my hand and she said, “Do you know?”  Julia Child was asking me a question.  I answered in my best not-always-correct-but-never-in-doubt voice that eggs are graded on the quality of the shell thickness and the yolk to white ratio that can be seen when holding eggs to a light.

“Wonderful,” Julia bellowed,  “I learned something new about eggs today.”

I have never been so proud of my vault of often considered useless knowledge.  I felt a little pat on my back as one of the other cooks whispered to me, “Wow, you taught Julia something.”

So today on her birthday I think back on what a thrill it was to meet her, learn from her and teach her too.  I still may not be able to flip an omelet one-handed but I will keep practicing.  I can always say that Julia encouraged me to make mistakes.

2 Comments on “Happy 100 to Julia!”

  1. Stuart Wright says:

    So under the “6 degrees of separation” concept I was almost a friend of Julia.

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