I often wonder where Julia got her zest for life from. Was it the shear luck of the domestic relationship she had with Paul or the time she grew up in? She published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, only a mere six years before I was born. In reading a little about her childhood, mine was identical sans the multitude of in- house cooks. T.V. dinners were the rage and an occasional exotic fondue, which was the only time my lips touched the taste of wine until I was 19 years old.
Like Julia, I didn’t know how to actually cook without a microwave until I was married. The first marriage happened when I was 20 years old and I felt this was a good idea since I didn’t feel I had a passion to articulate into wasting years in a college degree. Instead, I worked several jobs at once to keep me occupied and met a tall, dark man who tantalized my senses. At that young age I figured maybe being married was my career, and my career should have me being a retail working housewife and mother. Mr. Tall and Dark was a Sous Chef by a fault; his father was a cook in the Army and he had a knack for it through his father’s ‘career’ choice. His other passion was drinking and having a good time and that proved to be a bad choice for someone whom I wanted children with. By year two, I was seeking a divorce after he landed in jail for a weekend and I had my sights shortly after that on another man who seemed to be good husband/father material.
The first cookbook I owned was The Joy of Cooking. The first recipe I used called for sugar in the spaghetti sauce (NEVER AGAIN!) and it became a laughable joke for many years that I tried to kill the Second Husband through my attempts to cook. Second Husband was born in England to pure English stock parents who made their way to America when he was seven years old. Like Julia’s husband Paul, my Second Husband was 9 years older than me and grew up with a mixture of Illinois American heart attack foods and traditional English recipes like Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Potatoes. As a, still young, retail working housewife, Second Husband’s mom taught me how to cook traditional English/ American food dishes that my new husband was accustomed to eating. Two children later, I became a career housewife and mother, a true passion- filled career I cherished for nearly 20 years.
Today I am divorced a second time ( Second Husband thought he’d have a go with the other side of the fence) and have been living the single life (both children are independent adults) for nearly four years now. I did give college a try when I was 42 years old and graduated after six years last December with a bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Studies which focused on Technical Writing and Research, Public Administration and Organizational Communication. I am still working in retail, appropriately I suppose, as a cashier and occasional bakery clerk in a major grocery store chain. I will be 49 years old in a few months and I am itching to do something else with my life. My passions are in teaching (individuals, not classrooms of students), cooking savory meals, and communication through the written word. I had thought I’d be a freelance Grant Writer for local non profits, yet that work is self- sacrificing and rarely earns one a living unless you are also doing other work like Administration on the side. I have the time to write but have yet to find the ambition to do so, either for myself or for others. In many ways I feel somewhat stuck where I am and as about as free to do what I want (what is that exactly?) with my life without too many restrictions.
I realize that is the crux of my current position.
Happy Birthday Julia. You are truly an inspiration to me in that you laid the foundation of success (fortune in your own work) by following through with your passion. I am forever grateful for your perseverance and successful legacy you left all of us to enjoy.
Thankfully somewhere along the way I lost The Joy of Cooking cookbook and now own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. 😀