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Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia

Meryl Streep's new film reminded me to chew my food a little longer, and enjoy it a little more.


“Bonjour! Bonjour!” shouts Meryl Streep, playing the role of Julia Child as she wends her way through an outdoor market in Paris. Loudly and ungainly -- at 6’2” tall -- Julia Child is the proverbial bull in the china shop. But, as the movie Julie and Julia demonstrates, she does it with such charm and joy that she is able to win over even the reputedly xenophobic French.

Although a life devoted to cooking and food can veer dangerously into a paean to the body and a hedonistic existence, such was not the case with Julia Child, at least as depicted in the film.

What we witness on screen is a woman in a constant state of awe, a woman with a childlike wonder and pleasure in every new culinary taste and accomplishment. The audience is swept up in her enchantment and I found I spent most of the film with a smile on my face.

Her attitude is certainly something to envy -- and emulate. Most of us experience making dinner every evening as a burdensome chore. And yet it’s such an opportunity for appreciation. So many types of foods. So many colors and tastes. So many recipes and menu possibilities. One can almost imagine Julia Child clapping her hands in delight and anticipation. I’d like to bring a little of that into my home each night!

Likewise with the taste. All too frequently we wolf down our meal not really stopping to notice the taste. We’re “starving” (a word I have banned from my home as too serious to be used in situations of mere hunger). Or we eat on the run. We’re too busy to stop and savor the experience. Not so Julia Child. Every bite of food had the potential to excite. Okay, maybe there’s a happy medium. Maybe excite is too strong. But the Almighty has given us such bounty in the food department, such a wealth of tastes and textures that it seems ungrateful not to notice.

The Almighty has given us such bounty in the food department, it seems ungrateful not to notice.

We rob ourselves when we eat without paying attention. We miss the opportunity to appreciate yet another gift that the Almighty has given us, and to express our gratitude. Yes, our lives are overbooked. We may not be able to indulge in the 2 to 3 hour dinners that Mediterranean countries have made famous. We have responsibilities and commitments. We’re not living to eat; we’re eating to live.

But yet...

We are eating anyway. So why not do it with joy? Why not do it with appreciation? Why not pause, if only briefly, to thank our Creator for the colors, the variety, the flavor? One of our true responsibilities in this life is to taste all the permissible pleasures the Almighty has provided for us. Julia Child knew how to fulfill this responsibility and fulfill it well. It’s a lesson we could all learn.

September 29, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) SusanE, October 1, 2009 3:20 PM

Hope We Take Cooking to Heart

Thank you for this current article about Julia Child and Cooking. I haven't seen this movie but have seen trailers and bits on the television. We watched the real Julia Child cook on Television while I was growing up. Julia showed us how to de-bone a chicken among MANY other funny and useful things to do in a kitchen. She was great. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Views of preparing food for our children is beginning to change. I hope the days of throwing a slice of pizza and a soft drink into the back seat of the SUV's and calling it dinner are over. Looking forward to seeing the movie. You can see old bits of Julias actual TV show on YouTube. Type in '''''Julia Child the French chef Chicken''''''. Enjoy.

(2) Lauryn, October 1, 2009 3:13 PM

Good thoughts

Gosh, Joseef, appreciate the article for what it is, don't criticize things that aren't even there. The author not only did not use the word "starving" herself, but outright stated that she does not allow the use of the word in non-serious situations! Further, before you critisize the normal, everyday use of the word "hunger," look it up in the dictionary; it not only can mean "a weakened condition brought about by a lack of food," but also a "craving or need for food," or an "uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food." The use of the word here was completely appropriate. This was a lovely article that has many good points that we should all think about both when we are eating and when we are deciding whether or not to prepare our own food.

(1) Joseef Vleeschhouwer, September 30, 2009 8:09 PM

appetite, not hunger, nor starving. appreciation: Miriam Adahan preceded you

Most likely you, the writer, have not been starving, nor have been hungry. Mostly, we, in the western democracies, have appetite. As to appreciation for looks, qualities, quantities, abundance, Miriam Adahan wrote this years ago. May those parts of the world where hunger and starvation reign, be better helped by our privileged countries. Joseef Vleeschhouwer, holocaust survivor, hidden child, CAM specialist, granddaddy, Yerushalayim.

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