Monday, 9 November 2009

My friend Julia

I am proudly Capetonian and while it's not New York or Paris, it's not as backward as some people think.

After reading some of these questions - I cringe to think what people think of South Africa and Africa.

I don't understand anything about football or baseball, I can't buy milk by the gallon, unless I have a dairy (do people really drink that much milk? or do you have calves in your back yard), we don't have snow at Christmas, but still we celebrate it anyway and I don't know what Graham crackers are and Starbucks does not exist in my world.

We do have a Jimmy Choo shop (don't have the courage to go in yet) and MacDonald's (Yippee!).

We do have elephants and lions, but we keep them in game parks (and not roaming in the street). The sad thing is that 90% of the population will never see a wild animal (except our taxi drivers) - a few might see them (the animals) at a zoo. I am one of the privileged that have actually seen the big five (lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah and buffalo) in the wild.

But I digress, there are things that the rest of the world know well, but I missed as an average South African growing up. One such phenomena is Julia Child -until 6 months ago, I had never heard of her. Should I be blushing?

Now I can see the entire North America frowning and deep in thought - did she live under a rock? I guess when it came to TV and food I did. Television only came to this country in 1976, and then it was only for a few hours a day. Many of the programs where dubbed (into Afrikaans). I don't think a big American woman (she is over 6ft tall) teaching people to cook French food would have been a huge hit in this country in the late '70's - we had other issues!. And even if we did, I doubt I would have been allowed to watch it anyway, my parents were pretty strict about bed times and TV watching.

But things have changed, I now know who Julia Child is. I have read Julie Powell's blog (the whole year) and am now I am reading Laura Shapiro's book, Julia Child ~ A Life, a book I received (won) from Coco @ Coco Cooks.

This is an incredible little book, I'm about half way through and I can't put it down. If you are looking for a great little stocking filler for a foodie - even if they don't know Julia yet, this book is wonderful. With excerpts from letters her husband Paul wrote to his brother, things Julia wrote to her family and generally just the fly on the wall commentary on this extra-ordinary woman, you can't but help fall in love with Julia. And as you can see, I am already on a first name basis!

It is very well written, witty and charming. Foodies will love it, just because you'll find a kindred spirit in Julia. I see myself in her, as someone who wasn't born with a natural ability to cook, but had a love for eating and went out and learned how to cook - reading and learning and never stopping until she was happy with the result.

I just love the easy to read language and I quote "Shapiro's Julia Child personifies her own most famous lesson: that learning how to cook means learning how to live" - how very true!


Marisa said...

Great post! I also often wonder what Americans must think about us South Africans - I think their perception is somewhat skewed (to put it mildly).

glamah16 said...

I'm so happy you are enjoying this book! While being American, I can relate as I'm half African and used to hear the silliest things growing up.

Elle said...

Didn't get to see much of Julia on TV (my parents also discourage TV for kids) but my Dad bought the brand new Mastering the Art of French Cooking - both volumes at some point - for my Mom. She didn't actually make much from the books, but I enjoyed reading them as a teen and learned how to make Boeuf Bourgninon (not sure I speeded it right)in high school. I admired Julia for doing so many ground breaking things and not when she was super young, either.
Americans are very naive about how things are in other countries. Glad that you set us straight about South Africa. My nephew has been there and says that it is very beautiful!

Jeanne said...

I hadn't heard of Julia Child (or Elizabeth David, for that matter!) till I started blogging. At least we can always use the excuse that we grew up in Africa ;-)

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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