Posted by: njbrown | August 25, 2009

Julia’s disastrous Tarte Tatin, etc.

August 25, 2009

Last week, having found the PBS site that shows some of The French Chef programs, I watched three. One of these was the Tarte Tatin show. I don’t remember Julia ever having so much trouble. The apples were the wrong kind, and “unmolded” almost like apple sauce rather than beautifully arranged concentric slices. Julia proceeded to assure us all that everything would be fine, and putting powdered sugar on top and carmelizing the dish under the broiler would keep anyone from suspecting there had been a problem. To make matters worse, she had a pre-prepared tarte that looked right, and the contrast was humorous. Julia soldiered on, and served both, saying something on the order of, “It’s really nicer to have the two together.” What an inspiration! If I had flopped so spectacularly on what should be a fairly easy dish, and done it before millions of viewers, I’d still be hiding under my bed today. She certainly was a woman of strong character.

Last week, because of Julie and Julia, there were more programs showing her clips. There was one with Emeril that must have been shortly before her death, because she was quite stooped, and her speech was slow. Her first comment was that his chicken waiting to be cooked was “pretty scrawny.” Having read The Way to Cook – written less that five years before her death – I can see that the comment she supposedly made to the reporter about Julie’s blog may have been true. In The Way to Cook, she minces no words about some of her opinions about what has happened to cooking in recent years. I wonder what she would think of “molecular gastronomy” and sous vide?

If Julia may have had the occasional blunt comment, I have been amazed at the fact that I haven’t found a single negative comment about her. That is astounding for someone who was in the public eye for decades. An interesting observation I found in an article was that in spite of all of Julia’s writing, what was written about her, and all the hours she spent with us through her television programs, little is really known about her. One interviewer apparently asked her what she would have done if she hadn’t become a chef, and Julia had said she would have liked to be a spy. Perhaps that OSS was compatible with her basic personality.

My food this week has been quite basic, but I find I can’t even look at the frozen dinners that had been sustaining my life. Last night I made salmon in a simple wine sauce, since George is to have virtually no carbs, no fruit, and no vegetables that grow under the ground. Fortunately, this is a temporary situation brought about by pre-diabetic blood sugar levels. I’m sure Julia would include this as “one of those horrible diets.” The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and once we’re there we’ll use all the gorgeous ingredients that make food worth eating.



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