Ah, Julia Child, the original celebrity chef. The relatively tall woman who brought the pleasures and delights of French cookery into the American home through the miracle of television is not only a revered icon of the culinary arts, but an American institution as well. The former employee of the Office of Strategic Services married fellow staffer Paul Child in 1946 after meeting during her posting in Sri Lanka. The marriage would last until his death in 1994.
Paul and Julia's love was legendary and more than likely fueled by her incredible and hard-earned skills in the kitchen. By now, a decade after her passing, Julia Child is a household name. Through numerous biographies, television archives and the book/film Julie & Julia, she's forever in our minds. Is she responsible for the propelling of chefs to megastar status?
Probably not, but we'd like to believe that if she were around today and saw the current state of televised cookery, she'd be quick with the slaps upside the heads of the cartoony Guy Fieris and Emeril Lagasses out there who've turned the career into something more circus-like. Yeah, we think so, Julia might've had a funny and disarming voice, but her eternal, somewhat exasperated (or was it too excited?), out-of-breathness shows the woman didn't suffer foolishness easily.
While it would be easy to pull some footage of her with longtime gastronomic partner and fellow celebrity chef Jacques Pépin, we thought it best refraining in our cheekiness to likening them to a Ken & Barbie of the septuagenarian culinary jet set, we thought it best to look at old episodes of some of her classic recipes to build ourselves a nice little dinner party in her honor. Remember, get nice and loaded and whack some chickens!
Salade Niçoise is a hearty, composed salad from the southeastern city of Nice. It's good on its own as a full meal or in an elegant, small portion. Regardless, it is a delight to hear her say the name out loud! If you can't find Niçoise olives, we say go ahead and sub them for Peruvian purple olives, they have a nice brine to them.
Here's how it all began. Julia's first televised episode was for the classic beef bourguignon or boeuf à la Bourguignonne. Remember that time you bought a frozen TV dinner of beef stroganoff? This is what that always aspired to be. Tasty and filling. Make sure you have plenty of bread.
From the halfway mark of The French Chef's decade-long run, is this delightful chocolate/almond cake, the Queen of Sheba cake. Julia always pushed for aspiring cooks to try their hand at pastry making. This is not a bad start if you haven't tried.
Is there a better way to finish an evening than with some cheese and a couple glasses of wine? No, no there isn't and judging by the way that Julia rushes through her fondue frites, you can see that she agrees and is looking forward to polishing off some glasses of her own. You can almost hear the sigh when she dumps a bit of burgundy into a bucket to illustrate proper wine-tasting etiquette. We sighed too.
Now that you got some ideas for dinner, there's only one thing to say: "Bon appétit!"
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