Saturday, April 2

Toujours Julia

I read the final chapter and Epilogue of Julia Child's My Life in France to Dad as he finished up some work in the garage a couple of days ago, and when I finished, we lapsed into a silence, so full of joy of her final memories, and then heavy grief.  Moments later, we were both crying and shuddering and mourning miserably.  That was perhaps three days back, and thinking about it now, I feel a heaviness in my chest of missing.  Missing Julia.  I could cry again. 

The snippet I am about to share is the last paragraphs of the book.  (Epilogue, My Life in France, first published 2006.)  It reminds us of the sole meuniere she ate at La Couronne in France, which I shared with you.  You might want to re-read the excerpts so as to appreciate the significance of her final words.  

1.  Fish Taken Seriously

2.  A New Kind of Appreciation

Now, are you ready?  Don't cry, or you'll set me off again. 

If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture - a gummy beef Wellington, say.  But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience. 

Such was the cose with the sole meuniere I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948.  It was an epiphany. 

In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me.  I can still almost taste it.  And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite - toujours bon appetit!  [toujours bon appetit - always enjoy your meal].
I know this moment is not even a fraction as significant for you as it is for me, but I loved every second that I was with her.  What was she like?  She was beautiful, honest, courageous, determined, perservering, funny as anything, loud and lovely, bursting at the seams with delight and warmth.  Her words were full of truthfulness and life - I don't mean vivacity though she was vibrant, but life, as in she gave all the little beauties and all the troubles and then smiled at the end of all to show us it was good. 

"That's all in a book!  You don't know her!" people might say, thinking themselves perfectly intelligent and supieror. 

To which I can only shake my head and roll my eyes.  In my head I'm thinking: "You poopoo-heads.  I knew her in the book.  That is the life that I spent with her.  I know her.  I was there."

And so I was.  One of the only books in which I feel in love. 

1 comment:

  1. If the digital boundaries of the internet suddenly gave way I would be more than happy to give you a hug. But that is evidently not happening...


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