Bread and Tulips with Julia Child
As everyone's heard by now, Julia Child passed away today. Her influence on the world of cooking is legendary and she'll be missed both for her talents and for her charming and unique personality. The New York Times does such an excellent job remembering her, I'll leave it to them to provide the details of her life and career. Instead, I'll spend some time here sharing a funny little story about an encounter we had with Julia a few years ago.
A few years ago when we still lived in Cambridge, MA we went to see the movie Bread and Tulips. Whenever we wanted to see a foreign film we'd hit the Landmark Kendall Square Cinema. It's right in the heart of Cambridge and reasonably close to where Julia Child lived before moving out to the West Coast. We were waiting for the film to start and in walks Julia with a middle-aged female friend. It was impossible for it to be anyone else...she looked just like she does on tv and was in good shape for her age. They sat down a few seats away from us in our row and started to munch on some popcorn. While Julia seemed to be enjoying the popcorn fine, her friend decided that the popcorn tasted stale and she needed to go back to the concession stand for a better bag. Julia didn't seem fazed at all by the alleged staleness, but she let her friend go and then upon her return the friend proclaimed the new bag to be a bit better.
I love this interaction for three reasons:
1. Julia Child was eating movie theater popcorn! And she was totally casual and unfussy about it. I've always read that she had the capacity to be quite down-to-Earth in her tastes; this pretty much proves it.
2. I can't help but wonder if the popcorn guy knew the person who returned the popcorn was with Julia Child. And what did he think of that? It's not every day that he pops kernals for a famous chef.
3. Julia laughed at all the right places in the movie.
While most of us let her enjoy the movie uninterrupted, one person in the theater came up to her and proclaimed his admiration for her and her work. She was very gracious and kind to him. I'm happy I got to experience a bit of Julia from four seats away in the theater. It's a nice little memory to have every time I pick up my copy of The Way to Cook.