Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Great . . . inspiration in the kitchen

Wednesday's celebration of what would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday has us all pulling out memories, tributes and - the best part to me - recipes.

To join the fun, I'll repost a profile I wrote after spending several days around Mrs. Child at the Greenbrier in West Virginia in the 1990s.

For years, she was the headline speaker at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers. Before blogs, the Greenbrier symposium pulled in everyone from A-list food writing speakers to freelance writers for tiny papers all over the country.

I got to go to the Greenbrier twice in those years. The first time, I went as an attendee and new food writer, which is when I wrote the story about Julia Child. And a few years later, in an honor I never expected and still can't quite believe I got, I was invited to return as a speaker.

The first event was really special, the first time I got to sit at the feet of my own heroes and feel like maybe, just maybe, I might have something to bring to this food-writing thing.

On the last morning, there was a cooking seminar with Anne Willan and Mrs. Child. She made duck legs with a salad, and talked about how it worked so much better if you cut a duck apart and cooked its legs separately from its breast. She answered questions in her eminently sensible way. And she shared her favorite thing to make for dessert when she had friends over for supper.

I fell in love with the recipe. But what I really fell in love with was the idea that she would offer it. So much is made about Mrs. Child's down-to-earth manner. But this recipe, to me, is the proof of it.

She had lived a long time and she had learned that the best food isn't what we cook to impress. It's when we just share something that tastes good. And when you get to the end of a good dinner, particularly one where you've lingered over a bottle of wine or two, you don't need anything fancy to finish it up.

I'll post the story I wrote on Wednesday. But in the meantime, here's my favorite Julia Child recipe.

Julia's Ice Cream Surprise

Vanilla ice cream ("the best quality you can afford.")
Instant coffee

Get out your nice parfait glasses. Fill each with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream. Pour a shot of bourbon over the ice cream in each glass. Sprinkle the top of each with about a teaspoon of instant coffee.

Serve immediately, with long spoons.

Makes as many servings as you want it to.


Anonymous said...

It's tomorrow!! I received the Art of French Cooking as a gift last year ("20-year-old boys like to cook?" asked my mom...) and have been passionate about cooking every recipe I can get my hands on from any culture all over the world. Julia is my favorite though, so tomorrow I'll do it up proper and have plenty of friends over to enjoy the company and the food. Bon appetite!

Anonymous said...

The original recipe called for dark rum.