My passion for food, as I have constantly explained it, is very much related to sharing it and cooking it for friends and loved ones. I guess it’s the sharing of food and the conversations that come with dining that help connect us to people. I remember my 27th birthday a few years back. I showed an audio-visual tribute to my most cherished friends, which was really a montage of pictures over the years. My friends pointed out: most, if not all of the photos involved us eating! Either it’s at a restaurant, or at my home, where we pose with my latest dish.
All things considered, I would say that food is magical! And that is why I have always admired those who share their passion for cooking through television and books. My first serious attempts at cooking were inspired by Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals. Then came the likes of Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Giada De Laurentiis. And of course, there’s Martha Stewart, whom I was so delighted to watch in New York in 2008.
But before all of these folks was the woman who started it all — Julia Child.
Maybe it’s because I never really studied culinary arts, but I only got to know Julia Child in the last year or two. And more specifically, I got to know her through the movie, Julie and Julia, which was based on her autobiography. It’s a movie I can watch over and over again. I even have its soundtrack. And since I watched it, I have added Julia Child to my list of admired culinarians. Perhaps, I have placed her on top of the list. Oh, did I say I have her DVD’s too?
I have always admired successful people who have had humble beginnings and pursued what they were most passionate about — whether he or she is someone who holds a spatula or not. Julia Child, after a period of examination, realized her passion for food. And she pursued it by studying the craft, mastering it, and by sharing it with the rest of the world. Most importantly, Julia Child pursued her passion because of real love for her husband, Paul Child. What a wonderful marriage they had!
Don’t you just wish that we can just drop everything we’re doing and pursue what we are really passionate about? How I wish it were that easy to just go for one’s dream. How I wish it were as easy as how they present it on film — where one’s dreams come true in a span of two hours. But of course, there are realities one must think of. And there are obligations and commitments one must need to fulfill first. And as someone dreams and tries to fly, one needs to keep his feet on the ground where reality is.
The good thing is, reality doesn’t stunt one’s dream. It shouldn’t. Reality, I guess, should make anyone strategize and go for it wisely.
Back to my admiration of Julia Child. It was Boeuf Bourguignon (English: Beef Burgundy — or beef stew) that started it all for Julia. It was the dish that got the attention of her first publisher, which published the timeless classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. When I think of the movie, I could not but help remember Judith Jones trying cooking the stew herself and then having a vision of how successful the Julia’s cookbook would be. And of course seeing how satisfied Judith was with the dish made me very curious about it.
So today, I cooked it. Haha! I even played the soundtrack of Julie and Julia as I made it. In preparation for such a landmark dish, last night, I watched the actual episode of The French Chef and carefully listened to Julia’s instructions. Yes, Julia, I used a towel to dry the beef and mushrooms so that they brown beautifully. The dish came out beautifully, and I think I’ll have a hangover of the dish during this coming week. Plus délicieux!
I wish I could have used a better camera, but here it is — my first Boeuf Bourguignon.
For the recipe, I used basically the same ingredients as mentioned (you can google it up). The only modification I did was to add more garlic. I also don’t use a dutch oven, so I baked the stew using a pyrex dish, covered with foil. And I served the dish with my world-famous mashed potatoes (recipe to be posted soon — it’s the best, I tell you), instead of the suggested boiled potatoes.
I love how it came out, and my family and visiting relatives loved it too. And now that the experiment phase is done, I can’t wait to serve it to special people (you know who you are. Right, T?).
For me, there is something surreal about being able to make the dish. More than the amazing taste, it reminded all the more of the importance of going for what one is passionate about. It reminded me of pursuing one’s dreams, of making a difference. And perhaps, more than just dreams, it reminded me about pursuing a cause.
Of course, one cannot do it in a span of two hours, just like a movie. But I know we can all make a difference one step, one day, one dish at a time.