Happy Birthday, Julia!

The IACP commemorated Julia Child’s 100th birthday by having members post their favorite memories. Here’s mine:

My favorite memory of Julia comes from Venice in the fall of 1998.  Julia and Anne Willan were there to present a weeklong cooking program billed as “La Varenne at the Hotel Cipriani with Julia Child,” and I had come along as the kitchen liaison. My job was to prep and assist during classes and to coordinate with the hotel kitchen.

When I signed on, I expected plenty of long hours and hard work, but it seemed like tremendous opportunity. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I would first drive a carload of pots and pans down to Venice from Burgundy so that every morning I could set up our makeshift La Varenne kitchen in a tent erected in the hotel courtyard. At the end of the second day of classes, I had a run-in with the young hotel kitchen steward who was assigned to help me schlepp all our equipment back and forth to a secure spot in the hotel. Julia was within earshot, and, as I started up the path, under relentless rain, wrestling the heavy cart of equipment (unassisted), she stopped me and said, “Dearie, you mustn’t let them push you around,” and then she turned and cheerfully went off to dinner.  Bone-tired, pissed off, and feeling sorry for myself, I stopped and let Julia’s words sink in. She was right. I mustn’t let them — or anyone — push me around. It’s a lesson I try to always remember and to pass along.

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