Sukey and I had just walked across the large convention space to climb the stairs to the elevator. There she stood, overseeing her minions but seemingly somewhat embarrassed by the throng of fans wanting to ask her questions. She had forgotten she was in a public place.
Sukey walked up to her with a sense of familiarity to ask her how she liked the lamb we had sent her for Easter. Somewhat relieved to be looking at a recognizable face, Julia Child sweetly turned to Sukey and answered in her unmistakable voluminous voice, “Well, dear, it was very tasty, but rather tough.” This prompted our research into the problem, which led to an immediate change in the operation of our newly purchased U.S.D.A. meat plant as well as an almost continual discussion with Julia lasting for years of various procedures of meat processing methods in this country.
For all her icon status, Julia was a student, fascinated with butchery as well as all other aspects of the food business. I think so much so that she just felt very much more at ease with people who were in what she referred to in a congratulatory note to my daughter who is now a chef as “the best profession.” Indeed, the last time we saw her, we visited her kitchen in Cambridge to have coffee and “commune” as she said. We discussed aging methods of meat, the current status of culinary education, what restaurants were good and, if I remember correctly, general juicy gossip of the vagaries of various chefs. But it always got back to who’s cooking what and how.
After a half hour of this great conversation, my dutiful wife asked Julia where the coffee maker was. She looked at Sukey and said, “I don’t know where that equipment is; but I do have a lovely bottle of Chateauneuf de Papewhich we opened last night. We mustn’t let it go.” She then stood up, grabbing my arm with a vice-like grip and guided me into the famous pantry her husband Paul had modified by placing a diagram of his wine cellar with what was where and what had been consumed. She directed me to what glasses she wanted, refusing offers of help from everyone present, she poured the wine to her five guests. So there I was having Julia Child pour me white Rhone wine at 10:30 am on a gray October morning in Massachusetts. Life could be worse!
A recipe that we use for our Easter dinner every year. Inspired by Julia’s book A Way to Cook.
1 leg of lamb (semi boneless) approx 4-5lb
3 Tablespoon olive oil
style mustard Dijon
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon crushed thyme or rosemary
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Salt & coarse ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven 325 degrees. Place leg in roasting pan. Mix remaining ingredient in mini grinder and blend to make paste. Rub paste over leg. Allow to season for 30 minutes while preheating oven. Roast leg for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then raise temperature to 425 degrees, with lamb remaining in oven and finish roasting for another 15-25 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Remove from oven and let roast rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.