“Tu dis des choses qui font fermer les yeux
Et moi je trouve ca merveilleux…”
“You tell me things that make me close my eyes, and I find that marvellous…” Edith Piaf, “Tu e partout” L’Integrale 1936-1945
It is raining when I leave the gym, raindrops as plentiful as the breathless chatter of the Pilates instructor, just as relentless. Flattened grey sky, grey drops, black pavement, a sudden chill. Finally, the weather is obediently mirroring my emotional landscape. Shelves, cleanser, trash bags, job hunting and pecking over the internet. Who knew unemployment would be so busy. A London Fog slurped, savored, the caffeine works a minor miracle upon my heart, a panting frenzy of distractable hope. Water smears on the windshield, a discount book chain looms, sudden urge! Must go in! This feels like yesyes … Where are the cookbooks? Farthest aisle … Beard, Bourdain and suddenly, Bertholle Beck & Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I snatch. I clutch. I look left, right, then shove it between me knees, afraid to actually put it down lest someone else snatch and clutch while I scan for more from Les Trois. There is a Joy of Cooking, (snatch/clutch) and while wandering away, a shelf of antique books. My triumphant eye gazes, delighted as always with the facts as they were 100 years ago when …
Bertholle, Beck, Child.
Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, and … Julia Child. A MUCH older copy of Mastering… Disbelieving, I set my treats down, slide this one out of its spot, and open to the copywrite page. 1961. Edith Piaf had begun singing her lusty sorrow … nous nous aimions bien tendrement … and I held in my hands a first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by one Julia Child.
Oh Julia, I’m not the first Lost Girl to find an anchor in you, to feel safer, hoisting the solid heft of your instruction, defense behind a bulwark of butter.
I’ll roast that chicken, I won’t cut corners. I’ll make those phone calls, I’ll be patient, I won’t give up and I will definitely, assuredly, eat the butter.