I feel a particular affinity to Julia Child. I believe it has grown out of several roots: being French and American, having learned all about French Food at my Grandmaman’s knee both in my childhood summers and twice living with her outside of Paris for a year in the 1960’s, loving to cook and discover new recipes, and being an anything but usual woman while having a good and often rowdy sense of humor.
She was born on August 15th – just as Napoleon and my son Jasper, and she was as extroverted as her birthday mates. She had an incredibly loud and humorous voice, an even bigger shoe size and although she was an ox of a woman she was one who showed that true elegance of mind and body are not a matter of size. And that self-confidence is a very healthy trait.
I remember my French father and my German mother watching her cooking shows on black and white TV as a child in the US, bringing a piece of French culture and culinary boldness into our living room. The sound of her voice floating out of the room accompanied by the comments and joyfulness of my parent’s laughter over her hands-on methods and boisterous remarks and stories.
And who could forget the movie “Julie & Julia”? Where Meryl Streep brought her so close to our hearts once again and created new admirers amongst those to whom she was unknown before.
Julia had a mostly fabulous life: in her childhood, schooling and studies where she was know as a “lively prankster” and even as “really, really wild”. Later working in the OSS to aid the war effort and traveling to many countries, meeting her husband Paul in Sri Lanka, writing manuscripts, moving to France, defying all by going to the Cordon Bleu Cooking School, writing and publishing her famous books, filming her 3 TV shows and all this done with her typical pragmatism in the face of criticism “You are quite a revolting chef, the way you snap bones and play with raw meats,” one criticizer wrote “I can’t stand those over-sanitary people,” Child responded.
Yes I can empathize with Julia as I love to play with my food – it is part of being a creative cook, or as my foodie friend Regula says: “if you want to eat meat you have to be able to look it in the eye”, or the ear or the rear end for that matter I say.
Julia was truly a role model to me and so many others showing us that a sense of humor is one of the most important tools for getting through life’s adversities, and reaching for your goals without giving up another. Julia Child lived until nearly the age of 92 and worked on her last book My Life in France right up to her death ending it by saying: “… thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appétit!
And last but not least her quotes have always and will always make us smile. Even in a 100 years! You can read her best ones here.
Céleri-rave rémoulade is a typical French appetizer that can be made very simply at home but is also offered in every charcuterie in France made with their very own twist. It is always included on a “plat de crudités” on a restaurant menu. I have loved this salad since I was a child seeing how I adore anything with mustard even French Fries – and this dish owes its tastiness to mustard and Julia uses lots of it in her original recipe. My celery root wasn’t very big so I halved the sauce ingredients and tweaked a few steps for grating the celery but otherwise the dressing is made in the same way as in the originally-published recipe on page 540 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholde and Simone Beck, first published in 1961.
Please note as Julia has that Céleri-rave rémoulade has nothing to do with sauce rémoulade, a mayonnaise with pickles, capers and other ingredients.
And, as Julia commented in the words preceding the recipe – if you grate the celery on a fine vegetable mill you need not steep it – I have always grated my celery root and may therefore “dispense with the steeping and move straight to the dressing”.
Yes, do cut to the chase Julia, ahhh my kinda’ girl!!
Adapted from Julia Child
- 1 pound / medium-sized celery root (about 3 to 3 ½ cups when grated)
- 1 TBSPs lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 TBSPs of stong Dijon-type prepared mustard
- 1 ½ -2 TBSPs of boiling water
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml salad oil
- 1-2 TBSPs white vinegar
- salt & pepper
- 2 TBSP chopped mixed green herbs or parsley
Putting it all together:
Peel the celery root and wash it. Cut it into approximately 8 pieces for better handling.
Finely grate the pieces by hand (I find it to be finer and tastier than when doing it in a food processor) into a big bowl. Add the lemon juice and ½ tsp of salt and toss until mix. This will help prevent the celery from turning yellow/brown while you prepare the dressing.
Make the dressing in a metal bowl.
Warm the metal mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add the mustard and beat in the boiling water by droplets with a wire whisk.
Then beat in the oil by droplets to make a thick creamy sauce. Beat in the vinegar by drops, and season to taste (with the salt and pepper).
Fold the celery root into the sauce, and allow it to marinate for 2-3 hours or overnight. Decorate with herbs before serving.
P.S. My “plat de crudités” included the typical ingredients: carottes râpées (carrot salad) and salade de concombres (cucumber salad), radis (carved rose radishes), petites tomates (cherry tomatoes) and œufs dures (hard boiled eggs).