August 24, 2009 1 Comment
This wouldn’t be much of a food blog if there weren’t a post about Julia Child and that little movie about her falling in love with cooking and eventually herself and her life. I will leave you to experience the movie for yourself—something you should do posthaste. Be sure to take some Kleenex with you.
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but I am not a risk taker. I sometimes say that I take calculated risks, but this is just something I say to make me feel better about the fact that I am about the least spontaneous person you’ll ever meet (except for possibly my best friend from college. We actually organized a spontaneous cut day sophomore year so as not to miss anything important in class. It took weeks to plan).
My path to Le Cordon Bleu is similar to Julia’s, except I’m not a former spy, I don’t have unlimited resources and I only had a short amount of time to hope that this whole cooking school thing would work for me. Those minor details aside, when I decided to sign up for an intensive bread/pastry making class a couple of summers ago, I was completely lost. Like Julia, I didn’t know what to do with myself and nothing I tried was really working. My life was fine, but I constantly felt as though something was missing, that there was more out there if I could only figure out what it was. I had spent most of my life carefully planning my next steps and here I was, exactly where I planned to be (for the most part) and it—I—was not enough. I had done everything I was “supposed” to or thought I should do, but I was left feeling as though I’d be happier doing something or being someone else.
Taking a class at LCB was something that I’d wanted to do for years, but had never worked up the courage to commit to. Being in a kitchen, surrounded by rising breads and warm ovens was my idea of bliss, but it took me a long time to decide to try the class. I was terrified that I would hate it, hate being in the kitchen on my feet all day mass producing croissants. I worried that I would lose the dream I’d always fallen back on. But more than that, I was terrified that I would love it, that it would be everything I’d always imagined and I’d have to give it up after only a week. Living the dream and then having to come back to the reality I’d boxed myself into was almost worse than never having tried it. But by the time I signed up for the class, I had reached the point where if I didn’t do something then, I worried I would never do anything at all.
I promise to write about the breads and croissants and pastry dough soon (I even have the tart recipe in draft form!), but what ended up being more important than learning to make a dozen different breads that I have yet been able to recreate was learning exactly what Julia did during her time at LCB and in Paris: that taking a risk feels good; that it takes a long time to figure out your place in the world; that you may break a bit, but if you keep trying you will be able to put yourself back together; that we all have our tales of wanting something—anything—more, and if we are very very lucky, we will one day come upon whatever that thing is that’s going to feed our souls…