I’ve been reading the Julia Child book, My Life in France, and am struck with her and her husband’s curiosity and their delight in things novel and unique. They took such joy in exploring and learning about France, its people, its culture, and above all, its food. Mrs. Child found her passion for cooking in the lessons that she began at Le Cordon Bleu, the most prestigious of cooking schools in Paris at that time. I was particularly entranced with her striving for perfection, reading how one of the chefs told the class to practice, practice, practice. She described watching this chef scramble eggs, and it made me want to go scramble eggs for dinner tonight, using his technique. (I am planning on trying this as soon as I get home—I know we have plenty of eggs, in case I mess up the first batch.)
There is a striving for perfection for the sheer pleasure of preparing an exquisite dish or meal, a striving that is thoroughly engaging to read about. Julia Child exudes joy as she describes her days of shopping for the best ingredients or of finding the best resource for kitchen utensils in all of Paris. She is fully engaged in something that just plain gives her pleasure, and her happiness is catching. It appears to be what she was born to do: she went on to write THE definitive book for English-speaking cooks called Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
As I read of her time in Paris in the ’50s with her husband, the words “indomitable spirit” seem to suit her. Difficulties did not stop her when she knew what she wanted. She shared early in the book that she had drifted, not knowing what she wanted to do and not applying herself seriously to anything, until she found French cooking. But, then she was a force to be reckoned with. She did not let mistakes bother her much in what she called her “experiments” in cooking. It was all very scientific to her, and all about learning. Great recipe for life, I’d say. And definitely inspiring.