I like when things I’m reading and watching and talking about with friends all seem to jive. That was the case on vacation as I read The Sharper The Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn, and then went to see Julie and Julia on the big screen. All this after spending a few hours with a foodie friend the day before leaving for vacation – a dear friend who is a great chef as well.
Kathleen’s story is one of those ones we love, where someone steps through an open door of opportunity and things work out well. When laid off from her corporate journalist job, her boyfriend suggests she go ahead with her dream of enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. I love that she undertook this endeavor just for the love of cooking and in hopes of improving as a food writer. Armed only with a smattering of French and her knives, she plunges into the world of French cooking. Mornings were spent watching one of the esteemed French chefs demonstrate a technique, such as pastry or filleting fish or boning and stuffing meat, used in a recipe. In the afternoons, they headed for the kitchen, where they attempted to recreate the recipe, under the demanding and watchful eye of another French chef. The book is peppered with her insights into life and relationships, and each chapter wraps up with a noted French recipe.
I haven’t read Julie and Julia, but my interest was piqued by the story of a blogger (Julie, played by Amy Adams) who made it big, cooking and blogging her way through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Meryl Streep was marvelous as Julia Child, that inimitable kitchen personality whom my 5’0 – 100 lb gram nevertheless loved to imitate, from shaky voice to c’est la vie attitude! Stanley Tucci was equally charming as Julia Child’s husband Paul. I won’t spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it –
At one point, Julia Child becomes discouraged about the publishing process and asks Paul why she’s doing all this. He replies that it’s all about the connections – the friends she had made, the inspiration her book would bring to other women – and I thought to myself – that’s it! I just finished reading through The Jesus Creed again this summer and, as I read through the gospel passages, realized how important the idea of “coming to the table” and sharing meals was to Jesus. So important that one of his parting instructions was to remember his life and death through the simple act of breaking bread together. It’s in Jesus that we find connection, and we are called to live into this life through our connections with one another. Basic sustenance is the one thing that ties us all together – whether it’s in the preparation, the serving, the eating or the sharing together, whether it’s one basic life-sustaining meal in some parts of the world, a holiday meal shared with family or coffee and a muffin with a friend – each offers opportunity for meaningful connection, if we’re aware and willing to engage.