Well, I finally got to see a movie this weekend — Julie & Julia, based on the life of the renowned late chef and public television host Julia Child.
I was very excited about this. I really wanted to see it, but most of my girlfriends had already seen it and I did not know how I was going to persuade my husband to go.
Well, I did figure out how to persuade him (... but it's not that kind of blog).
Anyway, why did I want to see it? Only because I adored Julia Child.
I did one of the last broadcast interviews with her before she died. The piece was for ABC's "Nightline" (and the producer was none other than Madhulika Sikka, who is now executive producer of NPR's "Morning Edition" (hey girl!). The occasion or, as we say, "news peg" was a massive and quite candid biography of her that was newly published. And her famous Cambridge, Mass., kitchen, which her husband Paul (a key player in her story) helped design, had been dismantled and reconstructed for display at the Smithsonian Institution.
Anyway (back to the movie), you don't need to know the plot of the film to know there's a moment when Julia is quoted as saying something rather unkind.
I was so surprised. Not because I don't think she was capable of unkindness — we all are, especially the unintentional variety. But there is nothing that says that people you happen to like, or who happen to be lovely to you, can't be petty and ridiculous to someone else.
But some people wonder why I like her so much, even though French cuisine (Child's specialty) is not my favorite, at all.
It's because Child was a classic misfit who made it work — tall and tough in an era that valued petite and "ladylike, " a working woman, and she was someone who made delicious lemonade out of the lemon of her childlessness.
One of the things I loved about her is that she never hid the fact that she had hoped to have children. She married "late" and this was before the era of assisted reproductive technology. It never happened for her and it was a source of grief throughout her life, which she was honest about.
And she respected women.
Julia Child wasn't one of those cookbook or homemaking authors who you secretly believe wants you to fail, just so she can tell herself she's better than you (not that I'm, you know, thinking of anyone in particular).
I loved her television show. I loved that she was not a snob. I loved that she was all about integrity — she wouldn't push products just because there was some corporate tie-in. She was also up on the news. (I remember her asking me about Notre Dame football. At the time, I had just interviewed the coach.)
And when we visited Child in Santa Barbara, we asked her where we should go eat. She told us to go get an In and Out Burger.
I miss her.