Bon Appetit and Happy 97th Birthday Julia Child! And thank you Julie Powell, Nora Ephron, and Meryl Streep for keeping Juliaâ€™s spirit alive in the film Julie & Julia. It brought back a memory of one my life highlightsâ€¦
Several years ago I had the good fortune to meet Julia Child, who was 90 at the time. She was still doing PBS cooking specials, had written 12 cookbooks and taught millions of people that cooking can be easy and fun. She came down from her home in Santa Barbara to promote her latest cookbook at a book signing at The Book Works, Flowerhill (a wonderful independent bookstore adjoining one of my favorite book-writing cafes, The Pannikin).
I stood in line with more than 300 people for two hours. When I finally reached the front of the line, I couldnâ€™t believe how nervous and excited I was. My goodness, she was even larger than life in person. And very direct and clipped in her responses, which made me more nervous because after reading extensively about the challenges she’d faced in her life including breast cancer and the death of her husband, Iâ€™d been planning my question for days and began to wonder if sheâ€™d answer it.
As I got to the table where she was sitting, she looked up at me and sounding slightly impatient, said in her iconic voice, â€œWhat are you smiling about?!â€
Feeling uncharacteristically embarrassed, I said, â€œGetting to meet you, Ms. Child. Would you sign this book for a friend and may I ask you a question?â€
She nodded yes and began to write, so I crouched down on my knees to meet her eye to eye and continued, â€œHow do you stay so inspired and enthusiastic, especially in difficult times?â€
Arms flying into the air and sounding slight exasperated, she responded in her characteristic, slightly off-key trill, â€œWellllll, I eat well, Iâ€™m passionate about life, and I love what I do! Now what else can I do for you?â€
I offered my hand to shake hers and she gave me as hearty a handshake as someone 50 years younger. (Must have been from all that dough she kneeded over the years!) What a wonderful expression of enthusiasm and a confirmation that doing anything with enthusiasm, especially something you love, not only makes life more enjoyable, but helps you get through challenging times.
Hereâ€™s a short video clip recap of my experience with Julia from a speech I did at the Sharp Womenâ€™s Health Conference in San Diego. Bon Appetit!