Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Junior Chiles would have been 100

I just read that it would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday today! Oh how I just adored her and still do. I just started reading her letters to and from Avis Devoto called, As Always, Julia by Joan Reardon.  I've probably watched the movie Julie and Julia a dozen times and grew up watching her on PBS. So much so that I called her Junior Chiles as a kid!

When I was a wee little thing my parents opened a gourmet cooking boutique called Forty Carrots in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It's in the spot where Burdick's is now on Michigan Avenue. I have very strong memories of the pre-opening and getting to smash boxes with a hammer. My grandparents also owned a Forty Carrots at the Overton Square Village in Memphis. My grandmother speaks about her cooking classes in a video linked here. She also talks about meeting Julia Child. I think we all worshiped and adored her as a family. The smell of Boeuf Bourguignon brings me back to the kitchen of Toad Hall so quickly, you'd think I was able to fly. If only someone would make a candle that smells like it. Luckily, we have a shrine to Julia just down the road the the American History Museum. 

The exhibit is wonderful. It shows how her kitchen looked when she lived in Cambridge, MA. It reminds me of my grandmother and mother's kitchen of the 70's as well as both of their stores.

I know we had a blaze orange salad spinner!

I loved seeing her cookbook collection and must dig up a Victory Garden one soon for our collection.  Momma rented a garden plot from Western Michigan University in a weird little cut-out off of the highway when we were little and I remember stories about victory garden's during WWII. Mac and I were charged with filling up the milk gallons with water, and loading them into our wood-paneled station wagon. We looked forward to our daily visits to water the garden, pick weeds and scream at snakes. Momentous things happened at the garden. The community was tight and we learned so much about food. To this day, there is no better culinary treat than having a warm, off-the-vine cherry tomato! 

Julia has inspired three generations of home cooks. It is amazing to think that she visited my grandparents shop in Memphis. I have a photo of Francie and Julia together somewhere that I will have to scan one day. My memories of meals around our dinner table are so vivid from our childhood home. Thank you Julia for teaching my mother to cook and influencing my family's livelihood. I'm convinced this is why I love working in the hospitality industry, and certainly why I love having a blog to share my adventures in cooking, dining and traveling with you all!

I'm now just realizing how great of a corespondent she was. Can you imagine if she had the opportunity to write a blog in her lifetime? I love her snark and her sexiness! She was just the bees knees.

All photos were taken at the American History Museum in Washington, DC. 

Happy Birthday Jr. Chiles!

No comments: