“One of the secrets and pleasures of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”
Yesterday Julia Child turned 100. I owe her a lot. She taught millions how to cook, but I am thankful for one, Pam. By opening the pages of Julia’s many books, and by watching her on television, Pam learned how to cook. And because she had to try those dishes out on someone, I have been the luckiest man on earth.
But today I remember especially the grace of Julia. The reason millions of people felt so at home with Julia Child was her total lack of pretension, and her great-hearted acceptance of mistakes and failures. When things went wrong in the kitchen, Julia just pronounced it okay.
There is that humorous TV scene where a layer cake starts to fall apart, and Julia just scoops up a huge dollop of frosting and covers it all up. Parfait! She flips an omelette and the thing rolls into an eggy wreck. No problem. We just grab the egg-turner and smoosh it back together. Voila!
One of my favorite lines from the great chef is, “Always remember: if you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?” Compared to the perfect chefs of today, who serve up a “lifestyle” just out of ordinary reach, Julia Child was perfect in her imperfection. In a profound way she taught and lived a message of grace. That’s what I need every day. And since it’s what every human being needs, I want to tell people today that broken cakes and smashed omelettes and dropped lambs are just fine. Broken people are just fine. We really are.
P.S. Here’s a classic little 46-second video of Julia giving a brief homily, “Don’t be afraid of failure in the kitchen.”