Friday, October 3, 2008

Vintage Julia Child

I'm finally going to make real French onion soup a la Julia Child. Although my first introduction to The French Chef came from a parody on Saturday Night Live, I am a huge fan of hers. I still chuckle at the recollection of Dan Aykroyd in her style of clothes and hair, imitating her sing-songy advice, while cutting a chicken and cutting his hand.

I recently watched selected lessons from The French Chef, 1963-1973 on DVD. It was Julia's first television series and understandably a huge success. From the earliest episodes in black and white, in a studio kitchen fitted with a washer and dryer next to the oven (what better to use for counterspace), she enthusiastically introduces a series of dishes with potatoes - one of which doesn't work as intended. The camera continues to roll as she reassures her cooking audience it's okay to make mistakes and obviously make a mess.

Her exuberance and humor are refreshing and fun to watch as we learn French cooking techniques. With her warmth and helpful commentary she revolutionized cooking shows while focusing on fresh and lesser-known ingredients and a cuisine new to most Americans cooks. The mismatched pots and dishes in the kitchen and her casual scientific measurements add to the candor and appeal of her iconic style.

The French Chef is available on DVD in three boxed sets. Bon Appetite!

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