Stop Apologizing, and Other Things Julia Child has been Teaching Me.
One of my favorite movies is Julie & Julia; I really think this movie played a critical role in shifting my attitude towards cooking from “meh” to “oh yeah!” This film (along with Forrest Gump, of course) has been my go-to comfort flick if I’m sick or I’m home alone and want something to watch while I fold laundry. I think the main draw for me is the contagious passion of Julia Child (Julie Powell is aight); so I recently decided it was time to take my relationship with Julia to the next level and get to know the real lady in pearls by reading her autobiography, My Life In France. And whew, the real Julia is even more inspiring than I expected. Here’s what she’s been teaching me.
Julia describes this one time she had a friend over for breakfast and botched her recipe for eggs Florentine. She explained that the courteous thing for her do in that situation was NOT to apologize for how awful the meal turned out (which is exactly what I would have done); she says that by doing this, you put your guest in the uncomfortable position of having to eat something terrible AND make you feel better about it. Julia says it’s better for the chef to grin and bear it and make mental notes for next time.
I have been trying to apply this logic when I’m tempted to apologize for how messy my house is or my frumpiness or when I’m socially awkward. There’s no need to make other people suffer through whatever I’m apologizing for while simultaneously forcing them to make me feel better about it! Somehow this was a freeing revelation for me.
Grit trumps talent.
Julia never talks about having a magical knack for creating beautiful food at young age, and I doubt anyone would consider her a prodigy. But this lady has some serious grit. She logged hours. She literally spent MONTHS perfecting a mayonnaise recipe.
I’ve never really felt like a natural at anything, except for maybe correctly identifying jelly bean flavors. I am really good at that. So there’s something profoundly encouraging about the fact that if I push myself to log the hours I can (hopefully) someday be great at something.
The tricky part is staying dedicated enough to stick with a passion even when doing something different is tempting. Julia Child pushed into her interest and found that the more she learned, the more she wanted to learn. By digging into the nuances of French cooking - investigating the science behind beurre blanc sauce or the subtle regional differences of cassoulet - she fanned her passion and kept it alive.
Celebrate your people.
Almost every chapter in My Life in France includes an amazing dinner party or two. She never mentions being stressed and panic-y in the kitchen, instead she focuses on enjoying the food, wine and most of all the people she’s with, she jumps right into the party instead of isolating herself in frantic host mode, like I so often do. Julia used her passion for food to bring joy to the important people in her world never missing an opportunity to toast her friends and family in a way that is truly beautiful. I want to use my passions to make the people in my life to feel relished by me, Julia Child-style.