Tuesday, August 2, 2011

-an american in paris-

Ha, not me---I wish. Maybe for the big 3-0! 

Kevin, are you reading this? 


Actually, the aforementioned American in Paris is Julia Child---the Big JC.

I didn't really know anything about Julia Child until I watched Julie & Julia.

There. I said it. It's all pretty embarrassing since up until then I considered myself a francophile by proxy (*cough Mom cough*) and was even working on a fledgling impression of the woman (the key is to keep your jowls---er, cheeks and jaw slack).

After being sucked in by the on-screen Julia---ambitious and charming and self-deprecating---I was completely hooked and wanted to know more about this larger than life woman.

Her memoir, My Life in France, begins at the start of Paul & Julia's marriage in post-WWII France and spans all the way to 'present day' (published a few years after her death).

The first time I read this I practically skimmed the book, hungry (no pun intended) for hilarious anecdotes and cooking inspiration. These, of course, abounded, but when I reread it last month I realized I had missed the point, and everything was thrown into sharp relief.

This book was not meant to add to her caricature. This was about her marriage, her family, her nomadic life, her career---in other words, her personal journey.

Well heck, I could certainly use a little advice and direction in some of those departments (ok, probably all of those departments)!

Some highlights---the Big JC on:
"Travel, we agreed, was a litmus test: if we could make the best of chaos and serendipity that we'd inevitably meet in transit, then we'd surely be able to sail through the rest of life together just fine. So far, we'd done pretty well."

Travel Fatigue
"Remember, 'No one's more important than people!' In other words, friendship is the most important thing---not career or housework, or one's fatigue---and it needs to be tended and nurtured. So we packed up our bags and off we went."

Aging Gracefully
"We analyzed one another and concluded that marriage and advancing age agreed with us."

"'One thing that separates us Senior Citizens from the Juniors is learning how to suffer,' Paul noted. 'It's a skill, just like learning to write.'"

No-Apology Cooking

"I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make...Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings)...Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is."

Inner Beauty
"We had expensive hairdos, put on our nicest dresses, chicest hats, and best makeup. Then we looked at each other. 'Pretty good,' we declared, 'but not great.' We had tried, and this was the very best we'd ever look."

Moving Forward
"I was feeling upbeat when Phila began to cry. I asked what was wrong. 'Oh, I'm all stirred up because this is the last time we will be here like this,' she said. 
'That's true,' I replied. 
'But aren't you going to miss it?'
I shrugged and said, 'I've always felt that when I'm done with something I just walk away from it---fin!'"

"Now I was moving forward again, into new experiences, in new places, with new people."