Thursday, August 15, 2013

Redux: Keep on Cooking


I first posted this a year ago today, when dear Miss Julia Child would have turned 100.  Today, when I'm distracted and a little sad, I find it has really cheered me up.

Oh, I know.  This one is all over the place and you've already seen it ten times today.  I don't care.  I think it's genius, and a fit and cheerful way to celebrate the centenary of someone whom I geniunely think a Great American, the late and so fondly remembered St. Julia of Child.  Gimmicky, I know, but catchy enough I can almost imagine it being performed in some other context - the lyric, for example, is both witty and, at least to me, oddly moving:

Freshness is essential;
That makes all the difference.
I like to smell something cooking -
It makes me feel at home!

Bring on the roasted potatoes!  Bring on the rosé! 
This is what good cooking is all about!

Cook and cook and keep on cooking!
This is the way to live!

Cook and cook and keep on cooking!
This is the way to eat!

Bon appétit!

6 comments:

  1. Vera Hruba RalstonAugust 15, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Such a pity she was homophobic.

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  2. I don't know about that; she was a woman of her time and place, and used the language in play at the time in her circles and class. Whatever her attitudes earlier in life, by the end of her life she was an active and tireless fundraiser in the fight against AIDS, and there are many gay people who were around her in her last couple of decades who are staunch in her defense.

    As I'ven noted before, when I worked in the Business We Call Show, I had to wean more than one of my clients off of language that we would now find pretty appalling (from "light in his loafers" right on through much worse). They were people who'd always worked with gay people and never really had to process their feelings on a then little-discussed topic. When the time came, they progressed.

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  3. I'd never heard anything about her being homophobic, What's up with that?

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  4. In her extensive correspondence, she would occasionally use both English and French slang ("fairies," etc.) and about her gay acquaintances and even more occasionally make slighting references more generally. At the same time, though, she counted both May Sarton and James Beard (two of the gayest people imaginable) among her good friends.

    Later in life a very close associate - her lawyer, I believe - was an early AIDS patient, and this apparently caused her both deep anguish and made her think more progressively about LGB (if not, at that time, T) issues, as well as causing her to bcome a serious AIDS fund raiser.

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    Replies
    1. Vera Hruba RalstonAugust 16, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      Mon cher, please know that it gives me no pleasure to point out Julia’s rising and falling homophobia over the years. I certainly don’t wish to put too fine a point on it, but really, isn’t there rather more than just a wee bit of difference between saying someone is “light in their loafters” and calling them “homo vipers,” as she did on more than just a few occasions. And, mon ange, I believe pedalo (her preferred epithet for gay men, according to some biographers) more accurately translates to English as “queer”—to me, slightly more hateful than “fairy.” As is so often the case, her ‘come to Jesus’ moment occurred after the AIDS crisis began to affect people she actually interacted with. I admire and respect your obvious affection for Julia, but it is not quite so easy for some of us to blithely (forgive me, but so it seems to me) excuse her many instances of bigotry, however socially acceptable they may have been among her social class.

      Saddest of all, to me, is the 1992 (only 12 years before her death) lawsuit that Daniel Coulter brought against her and the institute she co-founded, the American Institute of Food and Wine, claiming he wasn’t named as head of the institute simply because he was gay. In the lawsuit, Mr. Coulter claims Dorothy Cann, the Institute’s chairwoman, told him Child was ''rabidly homophobic'' and this would undermine his effectiveness if he were named executive director. There is no record that Ms. Cann brought any sort of legal action against Mr. Coulter regarding the veracity of this damning quote. Of course, we shall never know the ultimate truth of the lawsuit as it was settled out of court (forever leaving the question of exactly why the suit was settled unanswered).

      Finally, I certainly do not think any of this alters the fact that Julia Child was a force of nature responsible for educating and entertaining vast numbers of people over many years. Many, many of us are deeply in her debt and the fact that she had feet of clay is simply the way of the world.

      And thank you, my gracious dear, for providing a blog that also educates, entertains, and uplifts so many of us. A belated welcome home, to you.

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  5. Fortunately homophobia, as Muscato has so eloquently pointed out, is curable. My college apartment mates were not the most open-minded chaps when I first encountered them. They were much more enlightened by the end of our year together and a few became rather staunch allies and supporters.

    As for Julia, well she was that rarest of creatures, a true original. There is nothing quite so delightful as someone with a distinct (and worthwhile) point of view being absolutely and unabashedly themselves. She hooked me young and has had me ever since.

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