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Julia Child lives on at pbs.org

In television, tv dinner time on 08/04/2009 at 8:29 pm

Hello chickens! This Julia Child post was originally published in June 2008, at the summer end of my weekend comfort-food series TV Dinner Time. But since every other blogger in the universe is hitching their wagon to the big-screen biopic Julie & Julia (opening Aug. 7), I thought I’d tart this old goldie up a bit. So here it is, only slightly tarted. See you at the theatre.

Julia Child courtesy of PBS

Julia Child courtesy of PBS

Even if you know her only by Dan Aykroyd’s most excellent spoof of her high-pitched voice and indelicate cleaver weilding, you know Julia Child, who introduced approachable French cooking to North America with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and virtually invented food TV with her PBS show The French Chef (episodes of which you can now watch on pbs.org or by clicking here).

In the 2007 book American Food Writing (editor Molly O’Neill, Library of America), she explains that the cooking show happened almost by accident. Her agent suggested a brief cooking demo on the Boston station WGBH. That appearance, in which the accidental TV star simply beat egg whites in a copper bowl while she talked, brought requests for more. Child, her retired diplomat husband Paul and agent, et al, decided she should tape another fuller cooking demo. And so, Ms. Child recalls:

Julia Child and friend courtesy of PBS

Julia Child and friend courtesy of PBS

“On July 26, 1962, after we all had eaten a big steak dinner at our house, we pulled the television set out of hiding and turned it on at 8:30. There was this woman tossing French omelettes, splashing eggs about the place, brandishing big knives, panting heavily as she careened around the stove and WGBH-TV lurched into educational television’s first cooking program.”

Rachael Ray, bow down and give thanks to a generous, self-effacing pioneer.

Normally, in the TV Dinner Time food and TV series, this is the part where I try to convince you that the recipe I am about to share can be made during commercial breaks and consumed without mess or fuss, all without ever having to tear your eyes away from your favourite TV series. Of course this assumes enough TV to keep you rivetting to the couch. But it’s summer. So, here’s a recipe from Julia Child’s Lessons with Master Chefs. The chef is Alice Waters and the dish is Beet, Blood Orange, Walnut and Rocket Salad.

Now, remember to eat right this summer. You know how I worry.

— Denise Duguay

  1. Hey D,

    I interviewed Julia Child briefly about a year before she died. I think she was 84 and a little shaky, but still the voice was unmistakable over the phone line. I asked her about the Julie/Julia Project. She seemed somewhat mystified that anyone would want to take on Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year. I was awestruck to be talking to her.

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