August 15th, 2021
Julia Child’s birthday was August 15th. I grew up watching episodes of The French Chef on a black-and-white tv with Jessie and my mother, in the kitchen on Bay 25th Street when we lived in Far Rockaway. I’ve mentioned before that the probable reason for snagging the nomination and win for French Club President my senior year of high school was not for my brilliant command of the French language. It was simply because under Jessie’s tutelage, armed with Julia’s recipe, I filled an enormous glass bowl with mousse au chocolat and toted it to a French Club dinner. The mousse was the highlight of the event, clinching my win the following year.
In 2016, the late Molly O’Neill orchestrated a trip to La Pitchoune (‘La Peetch’) in Provence for a group of strangers with a passion for words, wine, and travel. Cooking in Julia’s kitchen was as formidable as one can imagine. This year, to celebrate Julia’s birthday, I returned to a recipe from a now retired PBS program co-hosted by Julia and Jacques (Pepin). In this particular episode, there is plenty of bantering between the two as they create a sandwich inspired by the south of France. Culminating with a clink of beer glasses and generous wedges of an over-stuffed Pan Bagnat, Julia claims that the sandwich isn’t any good “unless the olive oil comes down and falls off your elbow” when you’re eating it. True. You can certainly enjoy a stemmed glass of wine alongside your sandwich, but a cold beer is pretty good, too; something my mother, not much of a drinker, would have enjoyed. Happy Birthday, Julia.
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