Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bouef Bourguinon

It was recently revealed that during WWII, Julia Child was a spy. I know, not merely because I read it, but because pretty much everyone I know called me to inform me of this. Why?

Because those people who are lucky enough to know me well have heard the tales of my childhood obsession with Julia.

It was kinda weird, I guess. I didn't really watch much TV as a kid- I didn't have the patience for it or something maybe- I was totally ADD and didn't much care for any activity that didn't involve me talking. But when Julia was on... I sat there hyp-mo-tized, wearing my Mister Potatohead glasses, watching her methodically chop onions. And I was not to be interrupted. She was on right after Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Which I did not much care for, as I found them rather patronizing (Near? Far? Yeah, I think I've got that, thanks.). But Julia didn't talk down to me. She totally assumed my mom let me near knives and the oven. She assumed I knew some French words. She assumed I had dinner parties and drank sherry, or even knew what sherry was.

I tried to be just like her. There is video footage of me at age three making a sandwich involving chopped carrots and cheese and talking about boeuf bourguinon in a Julia Child voice. I really, really liked to say boeuf bourguinon in that voice, and whenever anyone asked me what my favorite food was, I would insist that that was it, even though I had no idea what the hell it was.

I also once made my mother walnut soup. Which consisted entirely of unshelled walnuts in lukewarm water. It serves as a testament to my mother's unyielding devotion that she actually ate it.

At my pre-interview for kindergarten, they asked me what my favorite show was, and, of course I said Julia Child, quickly lapsing into my best impression of her. I forget what else I said, but afterwards they informed my mother that while I was "precocious," I was going to have horrid social problems, and that she should prepare herself for the next few years. They were right, but still- what did they have against Julia?

At the end of the year, they gave us one of those assessment tests. I had one of the highest scores, and my teacher reccomended they send me to a special "camp" called College Gate. College Gate wasn't camp- there were no kayaks or sing-alongs involved. It was like school, except you got to pick your own courses. I picked sign language, paper mache, some sort of English course involving writing haikus, and, of course, cooking. I totally had to fight my mother on this, because she wanted me to take more academic type courses. Which makes sense, because it probably cost a lot of money, whereas I could probably take cooking lessons at the Y for cheap. But I insisted, and I won. And I made fresh spaghetti, and ravioli, and shishkabobs, and pizza, and french fries, and it was awesome.

You should also know that I totally won the "camp's" invention contest! I made a paper dress (with notations on it such as "Spill some Kool-Aid? Cover it up with a paper flower!" and "Add paper ruffles for flair!" It's actually still in my parents basement if you ever want to see it.

As I grew older, I grew out of my Julia obsession I guess. Around third grade I got really conflicted about liking to cook/being a feminist, and sort of stopped it. It sounds stupid now- obviously I can cook and still, you know, want equal rights- but I generally rejected anything vaguely connected with what women were "supposed to do." I was young and strident- what can I say?

I've still never eaten bouef bourguinon, but it kinda warms my heart to know that Julia was such a bad ass.