Julia Child’s Apron Memory

On June 22, 2002, I interviewed Julia Child about her apron memory.

How I came to be seated at a cloth covered patio table across from America’s most beloved cook is a whole other blog (tags: serendipity, friendship, largess).

I arrived bearing two gifts: an apron I’d sewn especially for Ms. Child and a bottle of expensive champagne. Ms. Child unwrapped the apron – at least 10 sizes too small and ruffly-edged – held it up and in her distinctive voice said, “Oh, Dearie, dainty doesn’t do in the kitchen.” Then she sweetly handed it back to me. I quickly handed her hostess gift #2, along with a jumbled sort of pre-happy-ninetieth-birthday wish. Sliding the bottle out of its bag, she rewarded this present with a nod and murmured notation that this was one gift she would not be returning. Thank God I’d brought a backup to the apron.

For the next hour, I sat with Ms. Child as she ate a simple lunch of an unadorned hamburger patty and a pint carton of milk, and we chatted about my apron journey and her apron memory.

Ms. Child told me that she hadn’t much experience in the kitchen nor had she ever worn an apron, until she met her husband. Newly married in 1949, they moved to France, where she tasted French food and knew right then she wanted to learn about French cooking. Following the tradition of the Cordon Bleu cooking school, she began wearing the chef-type blue denim apron with a towel draped over the waist ties. When Paul and I cooked together, he wore the same type apron, only folding the bib at the waist and hanging a towel from the apron pocket.

As soon as she began talking about her husband, sadness misted her face, and no longer was I sitting across from an icon; rather, I was in the presence of a woman who’d lost the love of her life.

Paul and I always had breakfast and most of our meals with one another. After his retirement, we often ate at home in our kitchen. Upon his death in 1994, Paul and I had eaten together for almost fifty years. Fifty years.

Sitting across the table from Ms. Child, I watched as she tidied the cutlery on the plate. One day,I thought, I could be you…alone at a table, with memories of my prince charming as a luncheon companion.

Right then, I resolved to be grateful my husband comes home every day for lunch, to make his sandwich with love, to sit down at the table as he eats, and to abide Sports Center in the background as he recounts his morning at work. For one day, I may know of Julia Child’s loss and heartache.

The digital recording of that interview has been in a fireproof box for the past 7 years, so fearful have I been of taping over it. There’s over sixty minutes of conversation, revelation, poignant recollection, homey, personal advice and her words of wisdom, which I’ve integrated into my life…all fodder for a whole slew of blogs (tags: foreign, food, language, writing, cookbooks, celebrity, chef, teacher, hostess, wife, wisdom). Julia Child was a teacher of more than cooking.

xxea

Tie One On…an apron, of course!


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6 comments

  1. Amazing. Thank you for sharing your precious memories with all of us. I’m sure you hold that day and that conversation very dear to your heart. It is so wonderful that you have all of this saved.

  2. Wow, great time to share since the movie is out. I am currently reading the book and hope to finish it before I see the movie. I have always loved Julia Child. My friend dressed as her for halloween one year and I was Chef Tell. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh, Indeed she was. She helped put things into perspective and she possessed a great deal of gentle common sense.

    We are to have a Julia Child Appreciation Day this Saturday. Make one of her recipes, photograph it and share it with us in community discussions at www. HalfHourMeals dot com Please come.

  4. This was a lovely find online. I was in search of the type of apron Julia wore because I am doing an opera based on one of her cooking shows. she wrote the libretto and someone set it to music . so fun to re create her outfit and kitchen. she was a unique gem.
    katie

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