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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Judith Jones & the 50th Anniversary of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

On Monday, the Boston University Seminars in Food, Wine, & The Arts hosted Judith Jones to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Julia Child's famous tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was a celebration of a masterpiece, a legend, and most of all, memories.

I was so thrilled to be attending. Not only am a I huge Julia fan (I have a DVR series recording set for The French Chef), getting to be in the same space as the woman who edited not only Julia's books, but also Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich, Marion Cunningham, James Beard, etc. is actually making me hyperventilate in hindsight. From reading her memoir, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food and Sara Kate's visit to her kitchen, I still had no idea that she would be so engaging and down-to-earth.

Judith shared stories of working with Julia on Mastering, including how they really picked the title (Not exactly like they show in that "silly movie" about it). Julia was in Oslo at the time, so they wrote back and forth, and when Judith had sent Julia what was to be the title, Julia responded with, "Hurrah! I love the gerund!" And that was that.

She also touched on her personal cooking journey, and how after her husband, Evan, passed, how she wasn't sure she would want to cook for herself. Yet, food calls up memories, and she told how she found herself remembering dishes they shared together, and she would prepare them, light a candle, and it was as if he was with her. And The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Judith's book on solo dining, is just wonderful. She declares that cooking for one is an opportunity to experiment and enjoy, to use the precious gems (Judith's term for leftovers) in the refrigerator to create something new and exciting.

Because what would a cookbook event be without food, students from BU's culinary program prepared some tasty tidbits from some of Judith's books and Mastering. Since Julia founded BU's Gastronomy program, it truly was a full-circle evening.

What I said to Judith as she was signing my copy, I have no idea, but let's hope it was coherent! What can I say, she's a legend in her own right.

Have you met one of your heroes, literary, culinary, or otherwise?

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