My Life in France by Julia Child has all the ingredients of a fabulous memoir: plucky Julia, beautiful France, doting Paul, scrumptious descriptions of food, wine, markets, and cooking schools.
Like a five star meal at the finest French restaurant, readers will be sumptuously feted and feasted with every tasty word. You’ll laugh hysterically at Julia’s forays into the elite world of French cooking school, sigh adoringly at Paul’s attentive love for Julia, cheer victoriously when Mastering the Art of French cooking is successfully published,
and search endlessly for that same Sole Meunière that first inspired Julia.
Or perhaps you’d like to give it a try chez vous:
Sole Meunière – adapted from Bon Appétit
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 sole fillets (each about 3 to 4 ounces)
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Fish:
Place flour in pie dish. Rinse fish; pat with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of fish with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Place on platter.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot and shimmers. Add butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide fish between 2 warmed plates; tent with foil. Pour off drippings from skillet; wipe with paper towels.
For the Sauce:
Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter; cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice (sauce may sputter). Spoon sauce over fish. Serve with lemon wedges.
What most enthused me about Julia’s life is her indefatigable optimism; she truly took whatever life served up for her and made the best of it – whether it be crotchety cooking school instructors or militant McCarthyists who accused the Childs of being communists, Julia triumphed over all with verve and wit. If there is one word to describe Julia it’s fearless – it’s intriguing to see this intrepid outlook on life through her own words:
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
But Julia was not always so self-assured. She admits, “Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which cause me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, ‘scientific’ though. I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.”
My Life in France inspired Julie Powell to cook through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year (which in turn inspired the movie, Julie and Julia). How will you be inspired and which dream will you pursue?
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” ― Julia Child