I know this has been coming up a lot lately, but it's times like when a movie starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child opens that, once again, one feels rather far from the center of things in this sleepy little city by the sea.
Child was a familiar face growing up, especially at the house of my father's parents, where, as in Pyongyang, there was only one choice of TV channel - it was PBS all the time, except during pledge week, when the grandparents ventured out into the strange world of sitcoms and less-than-twenty-year-old variety specials on the networks, only to scurry back to Masterpiece Theatre and Wall Street Week at the earliest possible moment.
Mother Muscato firmly believed that sauces were for people who used second-class meat, but at the grandparents', it was a different story, with Grandmother and her indefatigable sidekick, her tiny "help", Alice, laboring for hours over steaming double-boilers and massive roasting pans to create the endless meals, each course richer than the last, that started me down the road to the heedless gourmanderie I enjoy today. Mother watched Julia as a diversion, enjoying the spectacle of someone wasting so much time when Betty Crocker made perfectly good scalloped potatoes and all you needed for aspic was gelatin and tomato juice. Grandmother, by contrast, enjoyed Julia on a more or less peer-to-peer basis, muttering "well, that's interesting, but not how I do it," as the roast slipped into Julia's TV oven.
When she and Alice would reach an impasse in the kitchen, unable to resolve the Warsaw and Pittsburgh methods of accomplishing a given task, the summons would come to "bring me Julia!" and they would let Mastering the Art split the difference, not as the ultimate expert, but rather as an experienced friend.
And now she's going the be the darling of the multiplexes, Julia Child Superstar. I think she would be deeply amused. And then go right back to the kitchen to make something lovely and buttery. She lived to 91 (three years more than Grandmother and, if memory serves, a year or two shy of Alice), so she (all of them, really) must have been doing something right.