We watched a documentary about Julia Child Thursday evening. It’s on HBO, titled Julia (not to be confused with the HBO series Julia, starring Sarah Lancashire, which we devoured last month). One of the last scenes in the documentary showed her preparing a salade Niçoise. Donna perked up and said “We need to make that.” I reminded her that I made a salade Niçoise à la Julia a few years ago, but she’d forgotten. So I made another one for dinner last night.
It wasn’t perfect … we didn’t have Roma tomatoes so I used a regular one, and I should have sliced the seared tuna thinner … but it was pretty damn good and even Donna said so. I forgot to scale down my own recipe, which is for four, so we’ll get to enjoy it again tonight.
I grew up thinking my Mom’s cooking was the end-all and be-all (doesn’t everyone?), but it was probably typical of 1950s and 60s American cooking, which is to say pre-Julia, not terribly adventurous. I do remember that as a special treat she’d sometimes serve toast with halved hard-cooked eggs with dollops of mayo or hollandaise and little lumps of caviar on top, so she definitely had some tricks up her sleeve.
Donna’s the adventurous one, though. She’ll tackle, without a second thought, huge whole-kitchen projects like flan, gnocchi, chiles rellenos, stuffed grape leaves, chicken tagine, and tamales. Not to mention the Italian cooking and recipes she brought from her family to our marriage, which got me started on a gastronomical trek of my own. My own from-scratch specialties now include boeuf bourguignon (like the Niçoise, à la Julia), bouillabaisse, braised short ribs, scallopini al limone, pressure-cooker pot roast, French bread. Last Christmas I gave Donna a kitchen torch, thinking that one of these days we’d teach ourselves to make creme brûlée, even though it’s not on our food plan.
Did I mention we have an online cookbook? Over and over, you say? Well, please forgive me, but I’m rather proud of it. And here’s someone who’s always appreciated our culinary efforts: