I’m currently plowing through Julia Child’s My Life in France. It doesn’t hold a candle to the wonderfully captivating writing style of Ruth Reichl (I adored Tender at the Bone and Garlic and Sapphires), not to mention some of my all time favorite food writers (that’s for another post), but Julia’s descriptions of post-War France, roasting a chicken, and driving through the countryside in a boat of a car are amazing. And I do love her brassiness.
This is the entry that sucked me right in, pretty quickly:
We had an excellent cremerie, located on the place that led into the Rue de Bourgogne. It was a small and narrow store, with room for just five or six customers to stand in, single-file. It was so popular that the line would often extend out into the street. Madame la Proprietress was robust, with rosy cheeks and thick blond hair piled high, and she presided from behind the counter with cheerful efficiency. On the wide wooden shelf behind her stood a great mound of freshly churned, sweet, pale-yellow butter waiting for pieces to be carved as ordered. Next to the mound sat a big container of fresh milk, ready to be ladled out. On the side counters stood the cheese–boxes of Cambembert, large hunks of Cantal, and wheels of Brie in various stages of ripeness–some brand new and almost hard, others soft to the point of oozing. The drill was to wait patiently in line until it was your turn, and then give your order clearly and succinctly. Madame was a whiz at judging the ripeness of cheese. If you asked for a Cambembert, she would cock an eyebrow and ask at what time you wished to serve it; would you be eating it for lunch today, or at dinner tonight, or would you be enjoying it a few days hence? Once you had answered, she’d open several boxes, press each cheese intently with her thumbs, take a big sniff, and –voila!-she’d had you just the right one.
It feels good to read about cheese in such a romantic way, non? And boy do I love me some yummy cheese. that’s for sure.
Besides, I must admit that some of the book’s descriptions of France take me back to our trip to Paris, when Sam showed up at my work one afternoon many years ago just before I was due to go into a meeting, and whisked me away to Paris (my boss had been in on the plot all along. Good man). Sam had not only packed my bags for me, he’d stocked the suitcase with new clothes (and unmentionables) from Barneys.
We had such a wonderful time that weekend, not worrying so much about seeing every site but rather soaking in the town and its magestic feel. We always say that about 9 months later our beautiful Emmeline was born.
The truth is, I believe our little Emme was with us even then, a tiny speck of life traipsing around the Parisian streets and into the cafes, bringing Sam and I closer together as we marveled at the unknown joys of becoming new parents.
And we didn’t even know the half of it…
Other things I’m reading this week:
- Given the freakishly warm weather in DC these days, it’s hard not to take climate change more seriously (I’m proud to have worked on this piece, too).
- Thanks to my friend Jess for pointing out this great read about the reality of parenthood. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
- This NYT piece on spa towns in Japan in Winter brings back such wild memories of when Sam and I lived in Sapporo.