Julia Child is my food heroine. We have so much in common — we are both a little awkward, late bloomers in life, have an obsession with butter and things fly when we are in the kitchen. I loved Julia’s show “The French Chef” which PBS ran in reruns for years. Her charm was that she just kept on going when things went wrong — she flubbed her flips, burned things, murdered lobsters and dropped things on the floor. She would laugh that infectious laugh and carry on. I knew I wanted to be like her — not cook perfectly, but have fun trying.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
So when my husband arranged a trip to Paris for me and my sister, Sue, I knew that I would be searching for Julia Child’s Paris on our trip. My sister has a daughter that is a chef and graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, so Sue was in for the adventure. On our last day in Paris we set off early on the Metro with our maps and phones with GPS in hand feeling confident about our adventure. Our first stop was going to be E. Dehellerin where Julia Child was a regular. She purchased her kitchenware here while she was attending cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and I wanted some!
After a short trip, we jumped off of the metro at a stop we had calculated about 6 blocks from our destination, fresh and ready to take on Julia Child’s Paris. An hour and 2 cups of espresso later we found it. This is where it seems appropriate to give you a few hints about finding your way in Paris — #1 Just because your GPS is pointing a certain direction — it doesn’t mean you are going that direction! #2 There may be some delay in your GPS reception — consequently you have probably passed your turn before your GPS tells you to turn (so refresh often). #3 One side of the street may be named one name and the other side of the street may have another name. And #4, Paris does not put its crosswalks at the corner of an intersection — they are often 10 to 20 ft down the street — this means your GPS may take you down a street that doesn’t seem to match the street sign you are looking for making it tricky to figure out where to turn.
After sometime of struggling to find our destination — My sister Sue stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Where is the sun? If we figure that out we can figure out what direction we are going?” It worked for us and we felt like explorers of old. When we finally found the store it washed all of the craziness of getting there. I was in love. The first thing I saw were the charming window displays complete with 4 inches of dust on the gorgeous copper pots– a true sign of a time honored classic store.
The inside the store was magical — I’m sure young, hip foodies would be disappointed due to it’s not very hip look. Walking through the door is like walking into an old hardware store, bins, buckets, and walls of gadgets and copper pots — Perfect!
I bought a tiny butter pan, some tart pans and a 6″ copper sauté pan. Nothing has a price on it just has a number on it, then you have to look up the price on pricing sheets — just like buying an oil filter for your car!
Much of my vision of Julia Child in Paris comes from the book “My Life in France”, her autobiography. It was also the book that the “Julia” part of the movie “Julie and Julia” was based on. It is really a sweet love story not a cookbook. When I think of her in Paris, I see her in the food markets, chatting up the vendors, squeezing the fruit and veggies and enjoying a meal with her husband Paul in local bistro. She was in love with Paul, Paris and the food of Paris.
“We had a happy marriage because we were together all the time. We were friends as well as husband and wife. We just had a good time.”
After our pilgrimage to E. Dehellerin we leisurely wandered the streets in the area and were rewarded by finding a beautiful small food market, a bistro where we enjoyed a gorgeous Parisian salad and we ended up shopping in a small flea market around the corner. All in all it was pretty fabulous and my pilgrimage lived up to my expectations!
This work of art was also incredibly delicious! It was quite of adventure too — as we were sitting out on the patio the wind came up and the waiters magically rushed and enclosed the area with large glass windows and saved the day!
I would have loved to had access to a kitchen. Next time I need to stay in an apartment so I can do some cooking! Maybe take a cooking class or bring Sue’s chef daughter to make it interesting.
I can see Julia chatting up the vendors and bringing home only the freshest of this seafood. I’m pretty sure there would be lots of butter involved.
France is in growing zones of 7, 8, & 9 which means they have fresh fruits and vegetables earlier than we do in Iowa — however, I don’t think they grow pineapple in France — LOL.
The little Paris market we found had food on one side and clothing etc. on the other side of the street. I found a great sweater and my sister Sue bought an adorable blouse made in France.
A blog about finding Julia Child in Paris would not be complete without a recipe. Since crepes are the street food in Paris it seems like this is the recipe I should share from Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. And bonus you get a recipe for a fresh way we use crepes at our house.
As Julia would say, “Bon Appetit!”
- ¾ cup milk
- ¾ cup cold water
- 3 egg yokes
- 1 Tb granulated sugar
- 3 Tb orange liqueur, rum or brandy
- 1½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 5 Tb melted butter
- An Electric blender
- A rubber scraper
- Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed.
- Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.
- If bits of flour adhere to the sides of the jar, dislodge with a rubber scarper and blend 3 seconds more.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- If you don't have an electric blender proceed as follows:
- Gradually work the egg yolks into the flour with a wooden spoon
- Beat in the liquids by droplets, then strain the batter through a fine sieve
Watch Julia Child make Crepes on the Smithsonian website for all of you visual learners! I also highly recommend reading her cookbook she was ahead of her times with wonderful step-by-step instructions for each recipe. Ebay is a wonderful place to search and find her vintage cookbooks — I often find treasures I’ve been looking for in many a used bookstore here.
Crepes are not as hard to make as you think, with a little practice you will be a pro– my husband impressed me when we were first dating with these fruit crepes! (Check out his recipe on my video at the bottom of this blog!) There are many crêpe recipes out there, Julia has 3 in her cookbook for different types of toppings. Not all recipes include alcohol, so I would say it’s optional and you could use some water and flavoring to make up the 3 Tablespoons used in Julia’s recipe which is what I did when I made them the other night. PS… Eric did say they “may be as good as his”…LOL
Check out my video below for “Date Night Crepes”
Here is the video of Eric’s Date Night Crepes which won me over. Yup, I decided he was a keeper! Eric used a tried and true one from Better Homes and Gardens and recreated the fruit topping and sauce from a restaurant he enjoyed. However, I think Julia would approve of his recipe also — sweet fruit with a sauce made with whipping cream rolled in a light crêpe. Yummy!