If you were too young for Julia Child’s heyday in the ’60s and ’70s, then you’re probably wondering what all the hubbub is about these days. For modern foodies who take their Cuisinarts, kitchen gardens, and celebuchefs for granted, the days before the dawn of Child’s influence were bland indeed. Back then, cans of mushroom soup and mushy green beans dumped into a casserole dish with some fried onions on top was called dinner.
After Child’s television show The French Chef debuted in ’63, home cooks had an accessible, affordable way to learn classic French techniques and transform their nightly journey to the dinner table from a chore to an adventure. Child was the beginning of the rise of the modern food culture (not the one where obese people are eating too much processed foods, but the other one where Alice Waters holds court).
To celebrate the release of Julie & Julia, the Meryl Streep movie about a blogger who cooks her way through Child’s epic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and also to mark the late legend’s 97th birthday, the local chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier will be hosting a birthday party and movie screening at the Terrace Theatre. The Dames (professional female foodies) will also be passing out cakes made from Child’s own recipes and raising money for Crisis Ministries and a scholarship fund.
There are some other ways to celebrate Julia this month, mainly by eating and cooking. Over at the Charleston Grill, Chef Michelle Weaver will commemorate Julia’s 97th birthday by recreating her favorite recipes and offering them on a $49 four-course tasting menu throughout the month. Expect to see some of Julia Child’s favorites like cream of cucumber soup, classic greens and vinaigrette, and coq au vin. For more information, call (843) 577-4522.
And The Glass Onion will be hosting a one-night prix-fixe “Julia” menu on Sat. Aug. 15. The three courses will feature classics like gravlax, veal sweetbreads, roasted chicken, and Queen of Sheba cake. If you’d rather cook up a party, Charleston Cooks is offering a Best of Julia Child cooking class on Thurs. Aug. 20. For $60, you can learn to master the art of French cooking and make bundled asparagus with bearnaise, parsley and swiss-cheese stuffed mushrooms, chilled leek and potato vichyssoise, coq au vin, and lemon tart.
As Julia would so famously say — “Bon appetit!”