The world is celebrating Julia Child. And although it seems many people are always celebrating Julia Child, today marks what would have been her 100th birthday. Everywhere I turn lately, people are reminiscing about the positive influence of her philosophies on food, life and love.
Most notably, Julia seemed to have a profound impact on many men and women who were raised in a “Wonderbread world” made up of processed foods and fast meal fixes. Neither children, nor their parents at times, had a real understanding of what their food was made of. As Julia entered the living rooms and kitchens of kids from a young age, she taught them to embrace real ingredients with a curiosity unmatched for the times.
“I was a typical American kid growing up on a diet of wonderbread, cheap casseroles, and really bad sitcoms. Julia took me out of this land, uncovered the individual ingredients in my casseroles, and did it in French!” explains Jackie Lantry, a Vintage French shop keeper who attributes her love of all things French to Julia’s ability to take her away from the tiny, closed off village she grew up in.
Alison Price Becker, restaurateur of Alison Eighteen in downtown Manhattan, agrees with Jackie on all counts. “Her tales of life in Paris inspired home cooks to find the best ingredients. Certainly at the forefront of what has become the farm to table movement,” says Alison.
“Throw away the bad stuff and enjoy butter in your life,“ Julia always said, explains Jamie Estes, who worked with the chef herself for nine years as the director of PR for the International Associations of Culinary Professionals. Jamie notes, “It’s true Julia also enjoyed all food in moderation, something not easy for everyone to do.”
Real Food Movement
In fact, Trudy Scott, a food mood expert and certified nutritionist, explains, “Julia was a pioneer and ahead of her time, and with all the obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression, we would do well to follow her great example.” According to Trudy, Julia’s cooking can be classified as whole food because it uses real items like meat, butter, vegetables, fruits, spices and doesn’t rely on boxed non-food items and processed foods. (And keep in mind organic, grass fed beef was the norm in Europe when Julia started her career.)
But wait, back to the butter. One of my favorite quotes from Julia states, “If you’re afraid of cream, use butter.”
Trudy explains, “Butter is a real whole food and when it comes from grass-fed cows it is a wonderful source of easily absorbed vitamin A, D, E and K2. It also contains a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats and contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that is protective against cancer and also helps with weight loss.” In today’s diet-crazed society, maybe it’s counter-intuitive to think butter could aid in weight loss, but I think Julia was on to something.
Additionally, she didn’t just preach to people the importance of using fresh ingredients to prepare a meal, she taught people how to actually do it. Sara Noonan spent an entire summer practicing the techniques in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. “I learned how to chop vegetables correctly, cook meat to perfection, embrace butter and prepare some of the best food I have ever made,” says Sara. Before, she was boring. Now, she explains, she’s braver. “I learned how to be creative and how to make food taste like something.” As well as being able to disassemble a whole chicken, she now signs up for a CSA box which forces her to use vegetables out of her comfort zone.
It’s obvious Julia taught creativity and bravery to many, and importantly, she set the example that you’re never too old to learn something new. But you’re also never too young! Julia has had an impact on even the youngest of viewers, thanks to both her PBS show, and more recently, with the modern day movie Julie & Julia, which caused a revival of interest in the late Julia Child.
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