My Daughter Gives Me Julia Child

12Apr10

 

I have always loved to cook.  Since I was a young child, I found cooking to be an escape and I became good at it.  Ordinary cooking, nothing too fancy.  When I did terribly in school, when I was awkward and goofy with braces, when I got in trouble for doing something bad I could always find my confidence again by cooking.  There were ten kids in my family and by the time I was eight I was cooking for them all.  Chicken Kiev was a specialty, little balls of breast stuffed with butter and herbs.  My darling daughter knows this passion of mine and so last summer after working for my mother in her photography studio for several weeks — running errands around Princeton, greeting customers, even assisting her with shoots — my daughter, Livia, took her earnings and bought tickets to Nora Efron’s movie, Julie and Julia, for herself, my mother, and me.  She also bought for me Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia and Julia Child’s My Life In France.  Livia, at the time, was nine years old. 

I had just finished a novel and was feeling empty, casting about.  Livia somehow knew this, that I needed some inspiration.  Alas, it took me about six months to get to, but when I finally did I was inspired indeed: clearly like the millions of people who have already read the book.  What I love about My Life In France is the portrait of genius Child unwittingly creates of herself.  Through her passion for cooking you understand vividly what it means to be a genius.  Her obsession to understand, for example, how to make the baquette as the French do but in America with American ingredients leads Child on a two year adventure.  She uses over 700 pounds of flour before she nails it.  How many of us, no matter our trade, have that committment to precision, to what we love to do?  Not many, I would guess — and perhaps that’s what separates us.  And the other bit of beauty: her desire for knowledge, her fantastic curiosity color her life with happiness.

  

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4 Responses to “My Daughter Gives Me Julia Child”

  1. 1 roxandra antoniadis

    If Livia, Isabelle (9++), and Sofia (8) were to take over our kitchens this week, I wonder what their menus wd be? Today is Gabrielle’s birthday, so last night Isabelle, Sofia, and I made her a flourless chocolate cake while Norman took Gabrielle out to Columbus for Thai dinner in the Short North. We like the Short North for food, vintage, the Wexler, the park, two great galleries (there are many, but less good), and, on Saturdays, some very crazy cars. We will eat the cake here tonight under yellow streamers and a big painting of yellow roses by Julia Dillon after Sofia’s first game of the spring soccer season. Sofia (squealing under a pillow with joy) says she can hardly WAIT!! for the game and for the cake. Livia’s previous life was clearly in Emilia Romagna? Much love, Roxandra

    • 2 marthamcphee

      Thanks, Roxandra. That’s a quick guide to Columbus. Very special. Amazing, these little girls.

  2. 3 roxandra antoniadis

    I absolutely adore this page, your notes, etc. and how you’ve organized the choices at the top. It’s just about the only site I truly enjoy. I’ve preordered Dear Money and can hardly wait to read it. Are you touring and reaading around the country? Come to Wittenberg U. in Springfield! Joseph O’Neill was here last year reading fr Netherland, which I thought a superb book. I loved his comment ab. Dear Money.

  3. 4 roxandra antoniadis

    oops, I did indeed see your schedule of appearances


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