Posted by: njbrown | August 27, 2009

Julia’s jewelry

In Julie and Julia, much was made of Julia’s pearls, but I didn’t remember her always wearing pearls. Sure enough, in checking my cookbooks, she wears a variety of necklaces, and her outfits became increasingly colorful over time. Even at about 90, she was attractively dressed. Julia was a wonderful inspiration for “keeping up standards.”

As women became motivated to entertain elegantly, the hostess gown, hostess skirt, etc. came in. Through the 70s and early 80s, I finished cooking in a long outfit and suitable jewelry to appear well turned. I can remember the throbbing of my feet in high heels as the dinner went on because they were aching from having stood all day in the kitchen. As I’ve said before, I wasn’t a relaxed, happy hostess, but I did turn out good food.

I can’t remember what “hostess” outfit I wore the first time I had George’s parents to dinner in our tiny apartment in Chicago. I remember having toast aux champignons to start, followed by Karen’s crab quiche. I don’t remember what I served for a vegetable, whether there was a salad, or even what I gave them for dessert. I do remember they were politely appreciative.

A year or so later, we had George’s cousin and her husband for dinner at our New Jersey apartment. They had come to New York on business, and were intimidating guests because they were well-traveled, and discriminating diners. That dinner I remember better. I served tiny quiches (ham and cheese) made using special molds George’s mother had given me. I had never seen them anywhere else, but they make fool-proof shells that unmold effortlessly. This was followed by turban of sole (a Julia recipe), but I filled it was salmon mousse rather than the fish Julia suggested. I napped it with a shrimp sauce (Julia had suggested filling the center with creamed mushrooms, I think). With this, I made Pommes Dauphine – potatoes and choux paste deep-fried to make lovely, light spheres of potato – a citrus and endive salad with a lemon, honey and poppy-seed dressing, and green beans done a la Julia. The dessert is hazier in my memory, but I think was Julia’s chocolate mousse topped with a piped rosette of whipped cream with a candied violet in the centre. George’s cousin’s husband pronounced it “the best meal they’d had in New York.” I was overcome with joy (and exhaustion).



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