Monday, July 16, 2012
Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat
Let the countdown begin!
No, we're not counting down 'til the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Nope, not 'til the students return in the fall, and not even 'til the end of the Mayan calendar. Uh uh. But a festive occasion deserving of celebration is coming in 30 days, on August 15, 2012:
Julia Child's 100th birthday!
Julia Child was devoted to an appreciation of good food in an age when convenience items were all the rage. She taught that cooking could be fun and even easy - yes, easy, although she was noted for complicated and lengthy recipes - because she provided such explicit instructions and sincere encouragement both in her cookbooks and in her visual demonstrations on television shows. (And remember, this was decades before Emeril Lagasse said that cooking is "not rocket science" on a network that would not exist without Julia's having blazed the food t.v. trail).
Despite not having taken cooking seriously until she attended culinary school in her mid-30s, Julia became an exceptionally accomplished cook and instructor. She showed us that we, too, could grow up to be anyone we chose to be, at whatever age we decided what that might be.
And so, the festivities in honor of this amazing and beloved woman - she who made such an impact upon us all - have been, and will be, numerous and varied. But one tribute is particularly lovely.
A charming new children's book Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, by award-winning author Susanna Reich - has recently been published, telling the story of Julia, her husband Paul, and "perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris" who lived with the couple. The book has been beautifully illustrated by Amy Bates, and shows clearly the love shared by Julia and Paul (a famous romance!), the beauty of Paris and the quaintness of its cafes and shops, and especially the grace and uniquely fluid movements of cats.
Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child was "a mischievous, energetic poussiequette with a lovely speckled coat" who enjoyed chasing birds and mice while "Julia spent mornings at the marketplace, buying meat from le boucher, bread from le boulanger, milk and cheese from la cremiere, and cake from le patissier." As Julia develops a love for French food and begins to take cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, Minette still seems to prefer her own catches to the exceptional cuisine offered in the household. The books asks: "Will Julia ever be able to whip up a meal that will entice Minette?"
It is great fun to follow along as Julia cooks and Minette hunts. And the book even includes quotes taken directly from some of Julia's own letters, making her that much more real and human rather than the icon that we're all so familiar with.
Julia Child invited all of us into her kitchen, and we subsequently invited her into our hearts. Please join me in celebrating her ... and Minette! Truly, you will love this very sweet story.
(Note: I was sent a review copy of the book. And as a fan of Julia's, of cats, of France, and of food, I couldn't help but smile as I read it.)
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