Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me & Julia



I became a Julia Child fan in the 1980s while living in Beantown--ground zero for Julia worship. I hanged out with other foodies equally obsessed with Julia. I perused her books and tuned in to her WGBH TV shows regularly. I even lived in the same town she did (Cambridge), often shopped at her favorite food store (Savenor's), and was a regular at the Somerville Wine and Cheese Cask, just a few blocks from her house.

My friends and I wouldn't dare use a kitchen gadget or appliance that didn't meet Julia's approval. No pressure-cookers or microwave ovens. The garlic press had to be Zyliss. But we took immediately to Cuisinart because Julia ok'd that from the get-go.

Some of my friends actually bumped into her while she was on her errands around town. Alas, I never had such luck.

When I moved to the West Coast in the 1990s Julia's heyday was over--Emeril and the Food Network dominated the cooking airwaves, while the Iron Chef series took cuisine to the edge. There were new culinary heroes, too, like Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges, and Charlie Trotter. Haute-cuisine was everywhere.

A year before I opened my wine store, I was back in Boston on business for my employer. The only part of business travel I looked forward to was checking out interesting restaurants while in town. On my way to the hotel at the end of day, I passed by the newly opened Café Louis in the plush men's department store, Louis of Boston. George Germon of Al Forno, Providence's best restaurant, was the consulting chef, so I just have to make a reservation for dinner that night.

Strolling back to the restaurant I stopped by a bookstore in the Pru to pick up Jasper White's newly published Lobster at Home. I find it useful to have a book to browse when dining alone.

The restaurant was nearly empty when I got there--slow weeknight or grand opening pains it seemed. I was seated at one of the tables by the wall that shared a long bench with three separate tables.

After I ordered, the dull quiet in the restaurant ceased when a group of five elderly, boisterous women marched in and got seated next to me. Good thing I had my book handy, and fortunately the woman sitting next to me on the bench seemed the most subdued, she kept mostly silent while her friends chatted loudly, emphatically inserting French words as they spoke in Boston-accented voices--ssuperr! tres tres bien! Kinda odd because the restaurant was Italian.

I twiddled my fork and hunched over my book in an effort to ignore them. Finally, the woman sitting next to me also joined the conversation. I immediately noticed her voice was high-pitched, chirpy, and warbly--strangely familiar. I glanced at her shoulder unable to see her face, unless I impolitely stared up, as she towered over me. She must have seen the cover of the book I was reading because she turned to me and asked, 'Is that Jasper's new book?' At that point, without even looking at her, it hit me. I know this person. It was Julia--sitting, freakin' elbow-to-elbow with me on the bench! And now she's striking up a conversation with me!

1 comment:

  1. That's a cute prelude. I wonder what happened next...!

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