Bon jour, my darlings! Suze here.
Yesterday was a special day. Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15, 2012.
I grew up watching reruns of Julia on WGBY. Our small town in the boondocks didn’t have a lot of stations until later in my illustrious television-viewing career, so public television it was. Even as a kid, I understood on some level the magic that Julia had. In my real-life experience, women cooked to put food on the table and keep the kids and menfolk satisfied. It was a chore (granted, my grandmother on the dairy farm had ten children, and my mother was the oldest daughter–so they were cooking for and cleaning up after a small army three times a day). They did not enjoy it.
Then along came Julia, a six-foot-two preppie wearing an industrial-looking dress and pearls, wielding a giant cleaver, gleefully making a dead chicken dance on the small screen. Her joy came through, just short of palpable, for more than 30 years.
She inspired me to learn to cook something beyond the basics my mother produced for our family of seven. (One of Mom’s specialties was “Spanish Rice,” which consisted of hamburger browned with onion, cooked Minute Rice, and a jar of spaghetti sauce. Not sure where the “Spanish” part came into play)
In my adulthood, as I understood more of Julia’s story, my admiration for her grew. A child of privilege, she worked in Europe for the OSS, met and married Paul Child, the love of her life, and trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris as a chef when women simply did not do such things. If you haven’t seen the movie Julie and Julia, do it now! The Julie storyline is completely forgettable (sorry, Amy Adams!), but Meryl Streep’s performance as Julia Child is nothing short of mind-boggling.
Here’s a link to the Smithsonian’s virtual exhibit on Julia Child. You can hear that famous warbly voice, see her kitchen recreated, and even look at some of the individual tools and gadgets she used.
And click here to watch one of the funniest parodies of all time: Dan Aykroyd playing The French Chef. Julia Child was said to have loved this so much that she kept a VHS tape of it. Note: you may want to watch this after breakfast!
So, in honor of her birthday, how about a small gift for all of you loyal readers? Here is my Secret French Toast recipe. No liver required. Bon appetit!
Suze’s French Toast
6 slices white bread (potato bread is delicious, if you can find it)
1/4 cup milk or half and half
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla (orange or almond extract is also delicious)
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix up the eggs, milk/half and half, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. No need to drag out the mixer–a fork or whisk works fine. Dip the bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Don’t leave it to soak too long, or the bread will fall apart when you try to take it out.
Preheat an electric griddle or a skillet on the stove. Medium heat is best. Plop on a generous glob of butter. You want it sizzly, but not burning.
Take the bread slices out of the egg mixture, let them drain a bit, and place them on the griddle or skillet. Cook until golden brown and fragrant on one side (usually takes a couple of minutes), then flip and cook for another minute or two on the other side.
Serve with lots more butter, real maple syrup, and some berries or sliced bananas.