By Tara O’Brady, Seven Spoons
Growing up in southern Ontario, close enough to the border between the United States and Canada, I spent a lot of my childhood watching the PBS station out of western New York. I come from a family of cooks, so cooking programs were what we watched on television, and Julia Child was often the person looking back at us from the screen. Back then, I didn’t wholly understand who Julia was — what she’d already achieved by that point (this was the 80s), or what she meant to the culinary world. She was simply this tall, funny, bossy lady with a trilling voice, who knew her way around a stove, who made delicious-sounding food but hardly made a fuss of it. She struck me as unapologetic in her opinions, and I liked her for that. And she seemed to genuinely enjoy the company of those who joined her in the kitchen, which made me like her even more.
It looked like everyone was having the best time, especially her.
Later on in life, when I really started cooking, I finally connected the engaging personality I’d come to adore with the formidable Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Despite its size, with Julia’s voice in my mind as I read the words, the book didn’t seem as imposing as it could have been. That right there may have been Julia’s greatest gift to all of us: as much as she gave us the recipes and lessons to cook well, she also gave us her wit and passionate interest with similar generosity. She made us believe that with practice and perseverance, we could be cooks.
Or anything else, really, and it was never too late to try. Happy birthday Mrs. Child, with thanks.
About Tara O’Brady
Tara O’Brady is a freelance food writer with an ongoing column in UPPERCASE Magazine and frequent contributions to Kinfolk; she has also written for Saveur Magazine, Parenting Magazine and others. More of her work can be found on her award-winning site, Seven Spoons. Tara lives with her husband and their two young lads in a brick and wood house on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada.