Cooking Legend Julia Child - In a Grocery Store
by Patricia Nieh
(Portola Valley, CA)
I tuned in to Channel 9 (PBS) to watch Julia Child create culinary masterpieces in my college years. At the conclusion of each program she wished her audience "Bon appetit!". Her breathless charm and obvious skill made me want to be just like her.
I didn't have much money in my student days but when I could assemble the needed ingredients I tried to duplicate some of Julia Child's recipes. Her quiche recipe was one of my successes. After graduation I found a job and had more money for groceries and more kitchen experimentation. Along the way I realized that cooking can be fun. Julia Child was my mentor and TV friend.
Then one day an advertisement placed in the local newspaper by an upscale grocery detailed how Julia Child would spend an evening in the store autographing what turned out to be her last book. A friend who also admired Julia Child and I bought copies of Julia Child's book and dressed up in our best. We were going to do something we never thought would happen. We were going to meet Julia Child.
My friend and I didn't mind standing in the long line on the second floor of the grocery that was a restaurant/gift shop in the daytime. People in front of us inched forward and at last we could see Julia Child sitting at a draped table. As she signed each person's book she smiled and said something I couldn't hear. At last it was my turn to place my copy of her book in front of Julia Child. As she bent her head and signed the page I thought to myself that she looked much younger in person than on TV. Julia Child smiled and looked right into my eyes. She said something softly but I couldn't process her words because my brain was so impacted by the experience. I think--I hope I thanked her before I moved along so my friend could have a turn.
Home again I thought about the evening. Julia Child was not only an accomplished cook she was also a gracious, caring person. There was nothing self-important about her. I went to sleep thinking I'd picked the right mentor.