When I was fifteen (or was it sixteen?), I had to bring a dish to school for my French class’s cuisine française day. I had no idea how to cook, but that didn’t stop me from making my first real dish: chocolate mousse. I used a recipe from my mom’s beat-up old copy of Julia Child’s cookbook.
Who knew the kitchen was where alchemy happened, that I could take a few simple ingredients (eggs, chocolate, sugar, a bit of coffee) and make something transcendant? After that, I started watching reruns of The French Chef and, later, Dinner at Julia’s. I didn’t make many of the other dishes, but just watching her cook and enjoy good food was an education. She taught me how to appreciate the effort that anyone puts into making food for me.
I still have that cookbook. The corners are yellow and the pages are falling out, and it just naturally flops open to page 27, mousséline au chocolat. Whenever I need to make a show-stopper, I still turn to that.
I don’t know about you, but I miss Julia. Happy 100th, Mrs. Child, wherever you are. Bon appétit.