Yesterday was the 100th birthday of a legend: Julia Child. Long before there was Food Network and its long list of star chefs, there was Julia. She began a cooking show in a rather unreceptive environment – it was the age of TV dinners, and housewives across America weren’t all that keen on tackling long, complicated recipes when a shiny tray popped in the oven and designed to eat in front of the television beckoned from their freezers. Despite this, Julia was a hit. Her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was groundbreaking. Even today, it is considered the ultimate guide for cooks everywhere. Her famous kitchen is in the Smithsonian — she donated it to the National Museum of American History in 2001. But, even though I grew up watching her on television, I’ve never attempted any of her recipes. I’ve always found them just a little too intimidating.
But to paraphrase Julia, I’m going to “be fearless and have fun” in honor of her 100th birthday. If you’ve never tackled a Julia Child recipe, go ahead and give one a try! Yes, it’s late summer and hot outside, but crank up the air conditioning in your apartment this weekend, grab a bottle of wine, and invite some friends over for dinner! Even if your idea of cooking is nuking Ramen noodles in the microwave, put the prepackaged items back on the shelf, turn your attention to your little-used oven, and tackle something delicious (such as Julia’s famous boeuf bourguignon – watch her make it here).
And while you’re at it, why not make a party out of it? Bake something delicious for dessert and invite your friends to a Julia Child inspired dinner-and-a-movie night. Grab a copy of Julie & Julia, a 2009 movie based on the true story of a blogger who challenged herself to cook all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. If the boeuf bourguignon is just too daunting for you, try making one of Meryl Streep’s or Amy Adams’ favorite recipes – they both starred in the movie, which will fit nicely into your theme. Be sure to make everyone wear their pearls!