Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Person of the Year

My 2004 Person of the Year is not is not even living any more. There are lots of worthy individuals that are still living (Jon Stewart was one of my considerations), but this one really stands out. She was a kind, passionate, brilliant individual and has made quite an impact on many people's lives. My 2004 Person of the Year is...

Julia Child

I've been a huge fan of Julia Child for years. I remember watching her host cooking shows when I was a kid. Her personality struck me then. Mrs. Child died in August at the age of 92. I remember being in my car listening to the radio when I heard the announcement. I started to cry. She is one of the people that I most wanted to meet in life. Her awkward and tall stature and shaky voice will always be remembered. Did you know that she worked for the OSS? She then met her husband Paul(a fellow OSS worker)in Sri Lanka and moved to France when her husband became a diplomat working for the US Information Service. She learned to cook at Le Cordon Bleu and cooking became her passion. She has written many cookbooks, but the standout is Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Mastering the Art of French Cooking is considered by many in the field to be the finest cookbook ever written. It is not overly complicated, and that's the beauty of it. Americans were not very good or adventurous cooks at the time. Mrs. Child's book opened up a world of possibilities for a whole generation of home cooks. Her laid back, casual demeanor made her very accessible and enjoyable to watch on television. She made cooking fun and she made it known that it's okay to screw up. She did it herself on TV. She'd simply laugh and add a little more wine. She was part of a circle of greats including James Beard and her good friend Jacques Pepin. One of my greatest TV memories is when she and Jacques Pepin co-hosted a cooking show on PBS. It was brilliant. You could tell that they were good friends and comfortable with each other and they played off each other with the most surreal chemistry. That show was an absolute joy to watch. Her spirit was infectious and it took hold on generations of home and professional cooks. Although she was not an accredited chef (CEC or CMC)she had the respect of the food community across the world. Anyone that can turn a meatloaf nation onto fine French cuisine had a natural knack. People were comfortable with Mrs. Child. Never intimidated. It is her brilliance, kindness, love of wine and food,and commanding personality that will always be ingrained in my memory. Mrs. Child passed away at the age of 92 eating butter, cheese, foie gras, goose fat, and drinking plenty of wine. There's something to be said for the "unhealthy" French lifestyle. She loved nothing better than sharing a good meal with good friends. Cheers to that! One of my dreams (honestly) was to eat with Julia Child. That will not come to fruition and I shed a tear for her passing. But I extend a wink and a toast to one of the finest people ever to grace our presence. Cheers! And as Mrs. Child would always say at the end of her show... "Bon appetit!"



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