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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Lessons from the kitchen

I’ve come late to my admiration of Julia Child. Right now, my only copy of Julia’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, is currently borrowed from the Toronto Public Library. Having just recently enrolled our children in a French immersion school, I’m renewing my love for all things French. It seemed only appropriate to finally read, My Life in France.

I'm early into the book, but it's not hard to quickly realize that Julia was exceptional for her time. She stood a rare six feet two inches, but her stature was not all that was extraordinary about her. She was intensely curious. She was disarmingly friendly. And whether she was learning to speak French or poach a fish, she resisted the impulse to self-consciousness. She gave herself permission to try, to fail, and always to try again.

It cost her $450 to enroll at the Cordon Bleu. Her husband’s salary as an American diplomat was by no means extravagant, and to commit herself to the expense of enrolling at the best of all French culinary school’s made little sense. There was no crystal ball to consult and reassure her, that yes, the money would be well-spent, the efforts hardly wasted, that there were published cookbooks in her future, a t.v. show, awards and acclaim! Yet it was a love for cooking that fueled her motivation to learn, to practice, and to devote herself so entirely to its mastery . It was the sheer pleasure in the tastes and textures of food and the delight in creating the simply perfect meal.

She had found her pulse. Her love for cooking energized her, invigorated her. Even at the age of 90 at which time she collaborated with her nephew for the writing of My Life in France, she spoke of how the work of writing the book had vitalized her.

I do not know anything about Julia's religious commitments, but her experience as a human teaches me what it means to be human, most fully human as Christ intends I be. I am not destined to be hobbling through life on the crutches of anemic desire. Instead, I'm promised life, full to overflowing. And real life throbs with desire, with feeling, with an ache for all that isn't, with a hope for what's to come, and with joy and thanksgiving for the today's greatest moments.

Here begins my journey to find my pulse.