un escalier

un fouet

My Life in France / Julia Child. Click to order un fouet (foo-ay) noun, masculine
1. a whip, a whisk

fouetté,e = whipped
la crème fouettée = whipped cream
fouetter (verb) = to whip; to prepare something quickly; to enliven
un fouetté = (in ballet) a step in which the dancer stands on
one foot while making a whip-like movement with the opposite leg.

Click to order My Life in France by Julia Child

avoir d'autres chats à fouetter = (lit) to have other cats to whip (fig) to have other fish to fry
donner le fouet à quelqu'un = to give someone a whipping
coup de fouet = (lit) a lash (fig) a boost
un coup de plein fouet = a direct hit (artillery)
un coup de fouet à l'économie = to stimulate the economy

La vie n'est que de l'ennui ou de la crème fouettée.
Life is only boredom or whipped cream.

A Day in a French Life...

I was not prepared for the effect that the death of Julia Child would have on me. Casually enough, I began reading the adieus* to the French food ambassadrice* in various online newspapers.

What inspires me most about Julia Child is that she didn't seem to find her way (or as the French say, "trouver sa voie") until relatively late--in career-life years anyway. It wasn't until she was 37 years old that she enrolled in the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.

She did not compromise her beliefs to please others, or as my husband said, "Elle a gardé son âme" (she kept her soul). She was not swayed by trends such as nouvelle cuisine or low-fat recipes and, perhaps most importantly, she remained her own goofy, awkward, intelligent, graceful, warbly-voiced-self while successfully demystifying the art of French cooking.

As I sit at my kitchen table putting together a quiche, Julia is on my mind. I am reminded to not be so impatient when assembling the ingredients. Indeed, Julia encouraged us to enjoy the process.

I am cheered to know that I have one thing in common with the culinary diva: a one-temperature oven. My oven's temperature valve broke somewhere down the line (before we moved into our house, where we inherited the still-functioning appliance). The temperature seems to remain somewhere between 350-450°--while Julia's famous La Cornue oven, well, I can't explain why it seemed to have only one temperature, you'll have to ask its new owner, the food writer Patricia Wells.*

I crack four brown-shelled eggs and whip them with une fourchette* (I do not yet own the fouet* that Julia made famous in the U.S.). Realizing the kids have snatched my kitchen scissors, I borrow a pair of shears from the bathroom. As I clip mint from our garden directly into the bowl of fork-whipped eggs, I marvel at how hair shears are an ideal, if accidental, herb cutting tool. Scissors in hand I reach for a slice of leftover jambon de parme* and clip that up as well. It probably looks odd to clip meat with hair shears (or to clip meat for that matter), but as Julia reportedly used to say, "Remember, you are alone in the kitchen and nobody can see you."

I add roasted pine nuts and fresh goat's cheese to the mix and stir the sloppy soup before pouring it into a store-bought unrolled pastry shell (a buttery "pâte feuilletée" to be exact). Though the instructions tell me to leave the quiche to cook for 30 minutes, I set the timer for twenty "just in case" and miraculously remember to check the tarte* 18 minutes later, only to find its surface charbroiled. I do not sigh, but whisk the quiche out of the oven and place it on the table, offering an enthusiastic "Bon appétit!" I imagine Julia would have done the same.

*References: un adieu (m) = a farewell; un(e) ambassador/drice (m,f) = ambassador; une fourchette (f) = a fork; un fouet (m) = whip; un jambon de parme = parma ham; une tarte (f) = pie, tart

In books: My Life in France is "the captivating story of Julia Child’s years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found ‘her true calling.’ " --from the publisher.

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