My Life in France, by Julia Child (Duckworth Overlook, 2009). Page 45:
“Paris was wonderfully walkable. There wasn’t much car traffic, and one could easily hike from the Place de la Concorde to the top of Montmartre in a half-hour. We carried a pocket-sized map-book with a brown cover called Paris par Arrondissement, and would intentionally wander off the beaten path. Paul, the mad photographer, always carried is trusty camera slung over his shoulder and had a small sketchpad stuffed in his pocket. I discovered that when one follows the artist’s eye one sees unexpected treasures in so many seemingly ordinary scenes. Paul loved to photograph architectural details, café scenes, hanging laundry, market women, and artists along the Seine. My job was to use my height and long reach to block the sun over his camera lens as he carefully composed a shot and clicked the shutter.”
“‘I feel it is my deep-seated duty to show you the rest of France,’ Paul said one day. And so, at the end of February 1949, he, Hélène, and I drove out of cold, gray, Paris down to bright, warm Cannes.
“The tone of our trip was set by lunch in Pouilly, four hours out of Paris. Paul had written ahead to Monsier Pierrat, a well-regarded chef, asking him to fix us ‘a fine meal.’ He did. It took us over three hours to work our way through Pierrat’s terrines, pâtés, saucissons, smoked ham, fish in sauce américaine, coq-sang, salade verte, fromages, crêpes flambées all accompanied by a lovely Pouilly-Fumé 1942. We finished with (and were finished off by) a rich and creamy dessert called prune, for which the cheerful chef joined us. It was an extraordinary meal. And by its conclusion we were utterly flooded with a soft, warm, glowing pleasure.”
The Julie/Julia Project, Sunday, August 25, 2002:
‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking.’ First edition, 1961. Louisette Berthole. Simone Beck. And, of course, Julia Child. The book that launched a thousand celebrity chefs. Julia Child taught America to cook, and to eat. It’s forty years later. Today we think we live in the world Alice Waters made, but beneath it all is Julia, 90 if she’s a day, and no one can touch her.
Government drone by day, renegade foodie by night. Too old for theatre, too young for children, and too bitter for anything else, Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. And in the Julie/Julia project she found it. Risking her marriage, her job, and her cats’ well-being, she has signed on for a deranged assignment.
“365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.
“How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait…..
“The Julie/Julia Project. Coming soon to a computer terminal near you.”
Monday, November 04, 2002:
“So where was I? Ah, yes, eviscerated lobster….
“Once I had finished preparing those, I got to work on the Artichauts Braises a la Provençale — artichokes braised with wine, garlic and herbs. This entailed trimming the tops of the artichokes, and the spiny end of the remaining leaves, then quartering them lengthwise and cutting out the chokes. I love cutting out a choke, and not only because it sounds like some kind of S&M jargon. It’s also just fun to scrape out all that nasty hairiness, especially now that I’ve come to love and appreciate the yummy soft stuff underneath. Anyway, all the artichoke trimming takes a little while, and then I boiled them for ten minutes or so. While that was happening I sautéed in olive oil (hence the “provençale”…) some onions and garlic, and turned on the oven.
“It was around this time that Bekkah and Jeff showed up. I would like to point out that I have never yet lost a friend en route to my place. Rat- and drug-dealer-infested it may be, but at least it ain’t hard to find….”