WHEN aspiring young food writers ask how I learned the trade — Was culinary school the first step? A journalism degree? Apprenticeship in a three-star kitchen in France? — I brace myself to disappoint them. I didn’t do any of those (extremely practical and admirable) things.
“The thing is,” I begin, “I was named after Julia Child.”
Child was born 100 years ago Wednesday, and without her, the phrase “aspiring food writer” would probably have never been uttered in the United States. Being named for her was certainly a nudge in the direction of food, but I didn’t grow up with a silver spoonful of chocolate mousse in my mouth. I simply watched my parents make dinner (sometimes beef bourguignon, more often burgers) and absorbed their notion that food was interesting and entertaining, not just fuel.
This didn’t happen in many New York families in the 1970s. Parents who did cook served meals of “wheatloaf” and carob cake; those who didn’t were busy raising their consciousnesses while the children ordered in Chinese food.
Today, the “family dinner” (preferably home cooked, from responsibly sourced ingredients) is widely considered a necessity, and even toddlers have favorite chefs.
It was Child — not single-handedly, but close — who started the public conversation about cooking in America that has shaped our cuisine and culture ever since. Her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published in 1961, just as trends including feminism, food technology and fast food seemed ready to wipe out home cooking. But with her energy, intelligence and nearly deranged enthusiasm, Child turned that tide.
正是查尔德——差不多可以说是凭她一己之力——开启了公众关于美式烹饪的大讨论，从而形成了我们今天的烹饪方法和饮食文化。她著作的《掌握法式烹饪的艺术》(Mastering the Art of French Cooking)一书出版于1961年。当时，女权主义、食品科技和快餐这三股潮流好像正合力要摧垮家庭烹饪。但是凭着她的活力、智慧和近乎疯狂的热情，查尔德扭转了潮流。
Today, in an age of round-the-clock food television and three-ingredient recipes, her book strikes many cooks the way it does the writer Lisa Birnbach, who told me: “Here’s the thing about Julia Child and me. While she has been a figure in my life for a long time, I have never actually used her cookbook.”
Indeed, it can be daunting. Not only are many recipes long and detailed, but they often call for ingredients that are no longer easy to find, like ground thyme and frying chickens, and equipment like ramekins and asbestos mats. Her insistence that tomatoes be peeled, chickens trussed and eggs beaten with a fork, not a whisk (all elements of the professional training she imbibed) now seems needlessly persnickety.
But in its fundamental qualities, the book and its many successors in the Child canon aren’t dated at all. Their recipes remain perfectly written and rock-solid reliable. And many home cooks, including me, have a Julia Child recipe or two that will always be a part of their repertory. They are recipes that, unlike her cassoulet, come together in minutes, not days.
These are not the showpieces you make once in a lifetime (and talk about forever) like her coq au vin or pâté en croute. They are under-the-radar basics, like the tomato sauce with Provençal notes of orange peel and coriander seeds that my family makes every September, when bushels of overripe plum tomatoes arrive at local farm stands. Do we peel and seed the tomatoes? No. Do we have cheesecloth on hand for wrapping the herb bouquet? Sometimes. But is it always Julia Child’s recipe, and a great one? Absolutely.
Alpana Singh, a sommelier in Chicago, often makes clafoutis from the master recipe on Page 655.
“You’re just making a batter and pouring it over some gorgeous seasonal fruit,” she said. “I love it because it’s like a Dutch baby pancake, but it’s somehow an elegant dessert, and it’s not too sweet.”
“就是做一个鸡蛋牛奶面糊，然后倒在当季的新鲜水果上面，”她说。“我很喜欢这款蛋糕，就像荷兰宝宝薄饼(Dutch baby pancake)，但是它显得优雅，而且不会太甜。”
The notion that Child’s fundamental recipes have lost their relevance makes some cooks downright indignant.
“I don’t see how there could be an easier recipe,” said Reges Linders, a home cook in Arlington, Mass., referring to the book’s classic gratin dauphinois. And indeed, after rubbing the baking dish with garlic and slicing the potatoes 1/8-inch thick, there isn’t much more to be done except pour in milk, cheese and a half-stick of butter.
What of the many modern cooks who recoil from recipes with carbohydrates and butterfat? Well, Ms. Linders countered, she still uses Child’s marinade seche for grilled pork tenderloin: “really just a dry rub, but so good; it’s the allspice that really makes it” and “her braised leeks make a great side dish for almost anything.”
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was an odd beast from the beginning, an attempt to forge a mind-meld between professional French chefs and untrained American housewives, many of them content with the era’s convenience foods like frank-and-bean casseroles and Tang.
During the nearly 10 years she worked on it, Child had an absolute conviction — shared by almost no one — that her book would be useful to American cooks. The manuscript was rejected by the original publisher; another house cautiously agreed to take it on, offering a $1,500 advance to be shared with the book’s French co-authors, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
在她写作这本书的10年间，查尔德坚信她的书对美国厨师有帮助，虽然几乎没有人认同她的看法。原来的出版社拒绝出版该书；另一家出版社很谨慎地同意出版，但是只给了1500美元的预付款，而且是三位作者一共给了这么多。本书的另外两位作者是法国人——路易斯特·贝尔托勒(Louisette Bertholle)和西蒙·贝克(Simone Beck)。
“They expected it to sell a few thousand copies,” said Bob Spitz, the author of “Dearie,” a new biography of Child.
But the review in this newspaper by Craig Claiborne (in the section then known as “Food Family Fashions Furnishings”) was glowing, calling the book “comprehensive, laudable and monumental.” (An accompanying headline raved “Text is Simply Written for Persons Who Enjoy Cuisine.”) And more significantly, Child began her popular programs on public television.
“It was going on television in 1963, the same year as the Beatles, that made it possible for her to become a popular icon,” Mr. Spitz said.
Her books have now sold more than six million copies and inspired cults around certain recipes, made up of cooks who may have nothing else in common. Virginia Willis, a cook and writer in Atlanta, and Scott Anderson, a yoga teacher in the Bay Area, are both devoted to the book’s Reine de Saba, or Queen of Sheba, a dense and nearly flourless chocolate cake that is virtually foolproof and very beautiful, ringed with toasted sliced almonds.
她的书现在已经销售了600万册，其中有些菜谱得到了很多人狂热的追捧，而这些人来自各行各业，除了对这些菜谱的疯狂喜爱再无共同之处。弗吉尼亚·威利斯(Virginia Willis)是亚特兰大的一名厨师和作家，斯科特·安德森(Scott Anderson)是旧金山湾区的一名瑜伽教练；他们都非常喜欢书中的“塞巴皇后”(Queen of Sheba)蛋糕，那是一种很浓的、几乎不含面粉的巧克力蛋糕。这款蛋糕制作起来很简单，又很漂亮，周围有一圈烤杏仁片。
And her French potato salad, made without mayonnaise but with warm potatoes, shallots, herbs and glugs of olive oil, is equally loved by Mary Hubbard, a retired teacher in Texas who said it reminded her of her German grandmother’s recipe, and by Alex Young, the chef at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich.
查尔德的法式土豆沙拉，不含蛋黄酱，但是有热土豆、青葱、草本香料和一大勺橄榄油。玛丽·哈伯德(Mary Hubbard)和艾利克斯·扬(Alex Young)都很喜欢这款沙拉。前者是一位得克萨斯的退休教师，她说这道菜让她想起了她德国外婆的配方；后者是密歇根州安阿伯市“英格曼公路旅馆”的大厨。
Many cooks fall back on her pillowy gougères, super-impressive but fast cheese puffs. One is Ken Oringer, the chef at Clio and other restaurants in Boston, who has pushed for, and just received, permission to erect a bronze statue of Child in the city. She lived in nearby Cambridge from 1963 to 2001, and died in California in 2004.
“She loved bone marrow and truffles and pigs’ trotters, but the gougères are the pure essence of Julia as a chef,” Mr. Oringer said. In other words, the recipe is precise, encouraging and functional.
The same goes for Child’s no-boil method for hard-cooked eggs.
“One of her favorite things to make for lunch when we were working was SA-LADE NI-ÇOISE!” said Sara Moulton, the chef, breaking into the fluty warble that spawned a thousand parodies. She was Child’s assistant on television and book projects, and said that because of her, she is incapable of taking certain shortcuts in the kitchen.
“I can’t not peel asparagus and broccoli because of her,” Ms. Moulton said. “I feel her looking over my shoulder.”
Many cooks feel the same. For Judith Norell, a vegetarian and owner of the Silver Moon bakery in Manhattan; for the writer Julie Powell, who spent a year cooking every recipe in the book for the blog that became “Julie & Julia,” the movie; and for the chef Laurent Géroli at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., Child’s famously fussy method for ratatouille — in which the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes are all diced small, cooked separately — is still the only way.
很多厨师有同样的感受。比如，朱迪思·罗维尔(Judith Norell)，素食者，曼哈顿银月亮面包店(Silver Moon bakery)的店主；朱莉·鲍威尔(Julie Powell)，她为了写博客花了一年的时间把查尔德书上的菜做了个遍，这件事后来拍成了电影《朱莉和朱丽叶》(Julie & Julia)；劳伦·瑞豪利(Laurent Géroli)，肯塔基州路易斯维尔的布朗酒店的大厨，对他来说，查尔德制作炖菜的方法虽然出了名的麻烦，却是唯一正确的方法——茄子、胡瓜和番茄都要切成小小的方块，分开烹饪。
“By going the longer road, she keeps the flavor and texture of all those vegetables robust and intense,” Ms. Powell said.
Naomi Duguid is a cook, writer and photographer who worked with Child on the cookbook “Baking With Julia” and other projects. She herself never cooks from recipes, she said (and as she spends much of the year in Southeast Asia, cooking from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” would hardly be practical). But she thinks of Julia Child often: when she makes an omelet, when she needs to improvise and when things go terribly wrong.
内奥米·杜吉德(Naomi Duguid)是一名厨师、作家和摄影师，她和查尔德一起写作了《跟朱丽叶学烘烤》("Baking With Julia")等项目。她说自己从来不按照菜谱做菜（现在她一年大部分时候都是呆在东南亚，按照《掌握法式烹饪艺术》来做菜也不实际）。但是当她做煎蛋卷的时候，当她需要即兴发挥的时候，当她把菜做得一塌糊涂的时候，她都会想起朱丽叶。
And they do, in all kitchens: cakes get stuck, mayonnaises break, chickens catch fire. But Child was unflappable in the face of culinary disaster.
“It was Julia’s basic course in good conduct: she stayed calm and learned to laugh about mistakes rather than getting angry or frustrated,” Ms. Duguid said. “She was the marvelous opposite of a control freak, and that translates for me every day in the kitchen.”