Friday, July 24, 2009

Julia and ME!

O.K., perhaps my Julia moment is a bit slight, but the horse is way out of the barn on this with Nora Ephron's forthcoming film (yay!) which weaves Julie Powell's ingenious Julie & Julia with Julia Child's My Life in France (complete with blog and twitter sites, no less), and I mean to pull-up and hop on. Here's my Julia confessional...

Photo by egg on stilts

I “met” the real Julia an easy twenty years ago while attending San Francisco’s Culinary Academy. My sweet crazy Southern friend Susan and I were trouble-making at the back of a demo room, like any self-respecting wayward clique, planted in a single isle separated from the main lower seating area/stage by a walkway.

Photo by Sean Ganann

We were having a good-old time, tittering on while occasionally glancing the chef’s way, when a grand inky shadow came over us, movie villain style. We gazed up to find Julia herself towering over us with a flute of champagne. She - rosy, backlit, fuzzy-haloed - winked and twinkle-smiled like the North star she was, and then, incredibly, lifted her glass to a stunned, betoqued us. Speechless, I think we tried to beam back. She operatically sighed, imperiously took in the rest of the room, and then instantly vanished like a very last warm gougère... poof!

Photo by C@rljones

You know those gauzy 70's posters of misted fields stocked with blurry white horses? This was one of those super-astral moments for me. Was Julia a foggy figment of wild, sleep-sucked times or did she, in fact, happen? She stood behind the other students so that no one else but our chef could see her. And he, uber-Frenchie Albert Tordjman, (who's become a friend), didn’t pause a moment to acknowledge or introduce the most famous chef in America (which I’ll always suspect was a bit of sour grapes re: the brilliant woman who so breezily co-opted his ultra-male culture). So really, just Susie and I were granted the vision; the Julia blessing; what I’ve naturally come to consider over the years as the passing of a toque, troublemaker to troublemaker.

Addendum: I sent this to Susie to confirm/deny my ever-loopy memory of things. Here are a few snippets from that exchange (she obviously needs to start her own blog):

Of course I remember Julia Child, she didn't look that blurry to me... you must have gotten to the champagne first. Secondly, I SPOKE to her and she answered AND smiled, she clearly was enamored of me too. She was my idol - when I got home that day I called everyone I knew.

Next... troublemaker?? Troublemaker... distracted maybe, there were about 35-40 good looking guys that knew how to cook, I was living in San Francisco and found out there was a way to eat and drink for a living, uh, it was a little bit more fun than I’d been having in Baton Rouge. No wonder we spent most of our time in the back of the class giggly and blurry.

By the way, you should definitely post this, the trailer to the movie is us! When the girl is at home cooking, and pours the bottle of wine and then drinks out of the bottle... something about that makes me think there's a nanny cam in my house. I want to play her - do you photoshop?

Susie & Me

And a final bit of Julia lore: Another friend of mine cooked for Julia Child (I believe at the Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley). After a bite of soup, apparently the great JC pulled a tiny rubber band from her mouth - which probably got there through a stock with carelessly added herb bunches. Mon Dieu! The entire staff began obsequiously swirling, naturalment, attempting to make the offending dish disappear. JC, laughing, would have none of it. She waved them all away trilling, "Nonsense, it happens!" Was the woman's every living moment a freaking life lesson?

Julie & Julia opens August 7th!


Sarah Dwyer said...

Aww Julia as a mirage? I watch her videos when I come home from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, looking like I murdered the Easter Bunny in my kitchen whites, hoping for comfort and inspiration. I don't know if it is possible to jump off the Eiffel Tower, but only bc watching Julia's dvds contain my suicidal tendencies. Love your recollections.

kristent said...

What a lovely post! Love it! Congratulations on being one of our featured bloggers! great to meet you and be inspired by your blog...kristen

LoveFeast Table said...

I love it too! It is fun to hear your Julia stories!! I love the way Julia, takes a "disaster" and shrugs it off! What a lesson, "it happens"!! A great way to look at things! Lovely blog, Chris Ann