I finally watched Julie & Julia, and I had tears in my eyes. What a beautiful movie. It was more than a flick that showed the passion for food and wonderful character of Julia Child. It captured what it is like to love France and all its glorious food and wine. France can be a pain at times with the attitude of some of her inhabitants, but it's like a difficult love and always touches your heart.
The movie reminded me so much of moving to France in 1985 for Wine Spectator. I vividly remember arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Jan. 2 with a couple of suitcases and a few hundred bucks worth of francs in my pocket. I only knew a friend of a friend; otherwise, I was on my own. Luckily, they were nice enough to find me an apartment in the seventh district right next to the Eiffel Tower. I looked confident, but I was absolutely terrified.
I didn't speak French, and the Parisians were absolutely ruthless in their torture of a young Southern Californian who couldn't speak their language. Coincidentally, Julia Child was from Pasadena; as you probably know, I am from Los Angeles.
I still hear my local bread baker screaming at me in French to tell him which style of bread I wanted to buy and how much I needed to pay. I just held out an open palm of change in hopes he would take the correct amount and pointed at the baguette. The visits to the neighborhood vegetable merchant, fishmonger or deli shop were just as bad, forget the local wine merchant. I lost a lot of weight in 1985 in Paris!
But it didn't matter. I was in awe of the beauty of France and the amazing food and wine, from the fresh ingredients of open markets to simple dishes in my corner bistro. It was all out my front door. France has such a sensibility for food and, of course, wine. Some of it has been lost with three decades of socialism as well as the rise in anti-alcohol legislation and fast food. But the love of good food and wine is in the soul of France.
The scenes in the movie of Cordon Bleu brought back fond memories. I had an American girlfriend who arrived to live with me in Paris, uninvited. I gave in and it took almost a year for her to leave. But she was a hell of a cook, among other things, and she spent most of that year attending courses at the famous cooking school. We enjoyed her homework just about every evening, just like Julia and Paul did in the movie. I later attended courses at Cordon Bleu in London, and I had flashbacks to the cooking room with my instructor telling me how to properly chop onions, same as in the movie.
I remember being obsessed with Patricia Wells' book on the food scene in Paris, A Food Lover's Guide to Paris. I was always checking off all the markets, bistros, wine bars and restaurants that I visited each week. I spent most of my weekends traveling to one wine region or another in France, from the Loire to Burgundy, to Champagne to the Rhône Valley, and everywhere else. Each region, each wine was a new experience. It was like slowly falling in love.
Anyway, I could go on forever about this period in my life. It was a combination of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking with a good amount of the encyclopedias on wine from Alexis Lichine and Hugh Johnson. Toujours la France!
David Stein — Toronto, Canada — November 11, 2009 1:16pm ET
James Suckling — — November 11, 2009 1:41pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 11, 2009 2:12pm ET
Mirta — Milan, Italy — November 11, 2009 2:29pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — November 11, 2009 2:38pm ET
Eric P Perramond — Colorado Springs, CO — November 11, 2009 3:15pm ET
Keir Mccartney — League City,TX — November 11, 2009 4:50pm ET
Eric P Perramond — Colorado Springs, CO — November 11, 2009 7:14pm ET
Steve Morford — Riverside, CA, USA — November 11, 2009 9:33pm ET
Steve Morford — Riverside, CA, USA — November 11, 2009 9:49pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — November 12, 2009 1:33am ET
Fernando Gerena — PR — November 12, 2009 9:48am ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — November 12, 2009 12:14pm ET
Fernando Gerena — PR — November 16, 2009 1:06pm ET
Matthew Hayes — Dijon — November 18, 2009 11:32am ET
James Suckling — — November 18, 2009 4:00pm ET
Jennifer Knowles — surprise, az. usa — November 20, 2009 7:24pm ET
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