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Today's equivalent of Julia Childs?

I was at the newly remodeled Smithsonian American History Museum where they have Julia Child's kitchen. I overheard a little girl ask who Julia Child's was and her mom replied, "She's just like Rachel Ray." Ow, not really. But, I was talking about it with my friend and she asked, "Who is the equivalent of Julia Childs today?" Is there any female chef, who has that level of fame, outside the culinary world, and is really a chef? Someone that the average child would know as well as she knows Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee?

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  1. I have to tell you that I wish you'd not quoted the woman you overheard: this is an interesting question but I bet a lot of this thread is going to focus on how Rachel Ray is not like Julia Child rather than the true question.

    You're also going to get strenuous objections about using the term "Chef" with Julia Child. (Brought to you by the same folks who took issue with someone attaching the term to a 5 year old in an internet video.) She didn't ever run a restaurant nor did she claim to be a chef. The criteria of "is really a chef" isn't really appropriate.

    Given that, I think this is a particularly hard question to answer in that Julia Child's gift was introducing a form of cooking to the American home cook that they hadn't had access to previously and making it something the home cook could do. Apart from the folks on The Food Network, I can't think of a woman who would be well known across our society on that kind of level. There are many, many talented and gifted women cooking all over the place and several of them are on television (I don't like all of their shows, but they're on TV) but I can't think of any who seem to have moved beyond that to near universal recognition and who teach the kinds of things that Child taught.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ccbweb

      I hope it doesn't become a RR bashing thread because it's not what I intended. RR has her place but I don't think sh'es a modern day Julia Childs and I'm sure she'd be one of the first to say so. The more I thought about it, it seemed that the famous cooks we have these days, at least as women go, are more food assemblers.

    2. When they made Julia Child they broke the mold.

      I think of her as a cooking teacher.

      On the Food Network the closest woman I can think of would be Ina Garten who seems to teach a bit, and before that perhaps Sarah Moulton. Neither introduced a new cuisine but they do try to instruct. When Gale Gand had a show on the FN, she too tried to instruct.

      On PBS, Lidia Bastianich does a nice job teaching Italian-American cuisine. She's good.

      No one can really replicate what Julia did. I remember when this country was obsessed with new-fangled processed foods... and Julia encouraged home cooks to use fresh ingredients like cloves of garlic instead of garlic powder, and fresh string beans instead of canned... My goodness what breakthroughs! I don't think our society is like that anymore. The availability and knowledge of fresh ingredients has developed over the years and become much more commonplace.

      I miss her.

      3 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          She was an assistant on "Julia Child & More Company" which ran for a season, but Child mentored her.

        2. re: TrishUntrapped

          Totally agree; when they made Julia they broke the mold. There really is no modern day equivalent. Kind of like asking who the modern day equivalent of Frank Sinatra is IMO.

        3. Can't think of a female. If sex is taken out of the equation, Emeril has probably been the most widely recognized over the past decade or so. I think he's already fading away though.

          1. As with an earlier post, I think Lidia Bastianich comes closest to Julia Child. She has the same warm, unpretentiousness, the love of sharing good food. They both instill a sense confidence in that as long as one cook with care, the food will come out delicious. I get the same sense watching Jacques Pepin. All three are natural teachers.

            1. These are dramatically different times, as others have noted. Child took the post-war convenience cooks, who were taking advantage of frozen and prepared foods and introducing them to a different way of thinking about food. It wasn't just preparing things from scratch, most of her viewers grew up with mothers who cooked from scratch, but it was about an appreciation of the European attitude towards food, buying produce and breads fresh daily, making stocks and learning to savor the meal from the preparation stage to eating.

              Today, we're overwhelmed with cooking shows and it's become a world of specialists -- not necessarily to the benefit of the viewer. However, the viewing public, while more sophisticated than in the '60's has mostly gone back to convenience cooking.

              1. As a few of you have mentioned, I love watching Lidia Bastianich. But, I don't think she has the universal recognition that Julia Childs had. Or, am I remembering incorrectly? It seemed like she was unversally well known.

                4 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  If it is just fame and being well known, RR might rival to Julia Childs for the moment. RR even has own morning talk show. But remember that Julia Child was an icon for more than 40 years. I doubt any of the current food personalitiies will have that lasting power or influence. Julia Child was entertaining but first and foremost, she was a tremendous cook and teacher. Now, most food personalities are just that, a personality and entertainer. Most of the current audience watch cooking shows for entertainment and not to learn how to cook.
                  Maybe, Martha Stewart can rival her for lasting fame and influence but she is more than cooking and food. She definitely has had for the past 30 years.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    I was thinking fame AND cooking ability/teaching. There are many celebrity cooks but more celebrity food assemblers.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      I definitely think that Martha Stewart is probably the best equivalent of Julia Child (even though she does more than food). She's a household world. While people like Alice Waters and Bastianich are really notable in the food world, I don't think the average person would have the faintest idea who they are.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        It's funny, but I've never seen Julia Child's cooking shows, but I l started to learn to cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking when I was 14 years old. I've read tons about her, and have seen SNL skits about her shows, but have never seen the shows themselves. Still, Julia Child was and is my cooking hero!

                        I think the closest to Julia Child that we have today are female chefs such as Alice Waters (Chez Pannise) or Judy Rodgers (Zuni Cafe) or Suzanne Goin (Lucques and AOC), who have written immensely inspirational cookbooks and who also work in the restaurant and food industries to change the way we approach food and it's preparation, by focusing on seasonal, sustainably produced food.

                    2. Not a TV chef, but I think Alice Waters has had a bigger impact on the way we eat than any other individual chef in the past 30 years. If you measure Julia on her impact to American cooking and eating (which was huge), then Alice Waters is right there with her.

                      If you are measuring Julia Child's television fame, then I think there are a number of chefs who have high enough Q scores to stand next to her. But it's such a different mediascape now, it's impossible to pick one. Nobody is as revolutionary as she was.

                      So I guess it takes a few of our contemporary chefs to equal one Julia Child.

                      63 Replies
                      1. re: Shane Greenwood

                        Just how wide spread was Alice Waters's influence? I had to look her up on Wiki to find out who she is and what influence she had. I've seen her name on some thread titles, but never bothered to look at them. So she may have had some indirect influence via what I can or cannot find in stores, or in what other chefs prepare, but there is no direct influence. But then I'm more inclined to look at books about Chinese or Spanish cooking, than the latest coming out of California.

                        1. re: paulj

                          She was one of the first to bring local, fresh food from the field to the table. Or, as some European chefs sniff, she doesn't cook, she shops. She might be one of the first to initiate the locavore movement to the masses.

                          1. re: chowser

                            While she may be obscure in popular culture, her presence in cooking circles is huge. She has been spearheading a local, sustainable, organic movement that has inspired chefs and purveyors alike. Especially in recent years with the emergence of groups like Slow Food, and the popularity of Omnivore's Dilemma, Alice Waters' work is really having an impact on how the country eats. She is not alone in this, but is widely considered one of the pioneers and leaders. Anytime you see an organic item on a shelf in a store, or order a seasonal dish in a restaurant, there will be a thread that ties back to Alice Waters. In this way, she has something in common with Julia Child, who also changed our eating habits for the better.

                            1. re: chowser

                              That is such a load. I keep hearing about her being the original locavore. What about what the populations of France, Italy, China (and most of the third world), to name just a few, do and have been doing every day. What? we just discovered seasonal, fresh cooking with Alice Waters - puh-lease.

                              1. re: Sui_Mai

                                Perhaps a better characterization is re-discovered...

                                From the 1970s (or earlier, even better), what other restaurants in the US still in business today, have retained critical and popular appeal, have multiple published cookbooks and emphasize seasonal, fresh cooking?

                                Truly, I want to know about them.

                                1. re: souvenir

                                  The Inn at Little Washington, for one. (And the food is way better than at Chez Panisse, IMO.)

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        I believe this thread is about locally-sourced ingredients, not about cheap restaurants.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          I don't personally consider Chez Panisse a cheap restaurant, but, my comment about the "way better" food at the IALW was that it also was far more expensive than Chez Panisse. But, you're right that neither comment was relevant to locally sourced food.

                                  1. re: Sui_Mai

                                    Yes, and I do realize that Pa Ingalls also was a locavore. I like souvenir's term "re-discovered" and, yes, I do realize she's not the only one. But, she did bring it to the forefront for many Americans, and no, not all Americans and I realize there are some who can't afford it, can't access the food, etc. I don't think she is the be all, end all. I am always surprised at what a lightening rod Alice Waters is. I've never heard her say she was the first, that she has the only way to eat, etc. but people seem to have this hatred of her promoting the idea that fresh foods can be good. At a time when many Americans who can afford better are choosing processed foods like Doritos over fresh vegetables, I don't think her message is a bad one.

                                2. re: paulj

                                  Alice Waters is not a "was." She is an "is," and she is still going strong spreading the gospel of local, fresh, seasonal. And I'd suggest you give her books a look. They are not, and have never been about "trendy," although a trend did emanate from her ideas.

                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    I think if you polled the chefs of America about who is influencing cooking the most today, you would hear Alice Waters' name more than any celebri-chef. Maybe Ferran Adrià would get as many mentions (for completely different reasons). Those are the only two current chefs I can think of that inspire people to take up the profession and to model their careers after, much in the same way Julia Child did.

                                  2. re: paulj

                                    Alice Waters was one of the pioneers of "California Cuisine," i.e., using lighter sauces, olive oil instead of butter, allowing the ingredients to shine through, which was a major deviation from the heavy french preparations of food in fine dining restaurants that was prevalent in the US until the 1970s. She inspired a whole generation of chefs to use and cook locally grown, fresh produce, and has written several excellent cookbooks. Many of the best chefs in the country today spent time in Chez Panisse's kitchens when they were young. She is still instrumental today in a big way in supporting locally grown foods, sustainably grown foods, and has been very active in getting gardens into schools so that children can learn where their food comes from. I'm actually surprised, paulj, that you post on this website and don't know who Alice Waters is!

                                  3. re: Shane Greenwood

                                    Waters won't cut it. She not "accessible," as they say, to regular folks.
                                    There was a story in the NYT when her last book came out. She was doing the promo tour and cooking with one of the food section writers. She gave a veeeerrry detailed list of exactly what she wanted and then carried her own olive oil in her handbag. Guess she was scared she couldn't get anything up to her standards in New York?
                                    Nothing was good enough for Waters. A real PITA.
                                    This is NOT reality. You don't see her on TV much, do you? Wonder why?

                                    Julia was successful because she was Everywoman (and Everyman too.)
                                    She made mistakes (did she really drop that chicken on the floor on live TV?) and some of her stuff didn't look great in the days of poor editing techniques.
                                    Did she care? Naahhh.
                                    She still showed us HOW it was done and it tasted great. We LEARNED. And laughed.
                                    Her humility encouraged us to try anything. We could do it because she told us we could with simple ingredients from the regular grocery store.

                                    Nobody today would produce a show with a large-boned 6-foot tall woman with odd hair and frumpy dresses who talked funny. She rambled on and on.
                                    Julia made mistakes and recovered from them, laughing all the way. An entire generation of Americans learned to cook thanks to Julia.
                                    She deserved that Presidential Medal of Freedom.

                                    They broke the mold after Julia.

                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                      IMO, Alice Waters gets way more credit than she deserves. She's a great self-promoter, but the eat/cook local vibe was already happening on both coasts before she caught the bug. I also seem to be the lone person on the planet who thinks that Chez Panisse is ho-hum.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        You are not alone. There are others.
                                        I heard her described, not as a chef or cook, but as a shopper/gatherer. Ouch.
                                        She's all about esoteric ingredients that SHE can have that YOU can't.
                                        She's better than you are.
                                        Everything she has is more pure, more fresh (it's right out HER back door, after all), more organic, a better variety, more rare, and no matter how hard you try, you'll never duplicate it.
                                        If you do, she's already moved on to something new, and you are hopelessly out of date and behind the curve.
                                        Not to mention, completely out of style.
                                        She tolerates ordinary people when she has a book to sell.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          Well, let's just say the twit makes osso bucco with beef shanks! Maybe she's been snorting too much arugula.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            That's criminal (not the post, the beef osso bucco)

                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                            Every restaurant and chef has their detractors, but I have to disagree with one point MakingSense makes, which is that AW is, "all about esoteric ingredients the SHE and have that YOU can't." That a mischaracterization of her style completely. She is about seasonal and local ingredients. There isn't a thing on her menu that I don't feel like I can go out and buy when in season. Maybe not at the Supermarket, but at my local farmers markets for sure. It is true she gets better quality than most, but that's because she's spent years fostering relationships with purveyors and supporting them. But every good chef sources the best food they can.

                                            1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                              Does living in the Bay area give you and AW an edge in this seasonal shopping?

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I think that is a fair question. Certainly in Northern CA the climate is such that we have a greater variety of fresh and local year round than many parts of the country.

                                              2. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                How nice for Alice Waters. She spends "years fostering relationships with purveyors," and then preaches to the masses.
                                                When was the last time she had to shop and cook in Indiana or Oklahoma in February?
                                                It would be interesting to see her "local and seasonal" meals in Duluth or Wichita this week.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  I do live in Indiana, and I can buy great local produce at our Winter Market every Saturday. In addition to salad mix (11 lettuces and micro greens), kale, spinach, apples, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (most grown in the ground in hoop houses), there's free range eggs, organic chicken, lamb, beef and pork, local milk and goat cheese. I'm happy as a clam, and I know exactly who is growing my food. It IS possible to eat locally in the Mid West in mid winter, as long as you can do without corn, asparagus, vine-ripened tomatoes, etc.

                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    Yes, Pikawicca, it is possible to do it.
                                                    But of the 6.5 million people in Indiana, how many of them are shopping at your Winter Market? How many are using EBT cards? How many can afford to feed famiiles goat cheese and organic lamb - even of their kids will eat that in preference to chicken fingers and pizza?
                                                    I can get all of that as well but I recognize that I am privileged.
                                                    Alice Waters never makes that distinction yet she presumes to lecture.

                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      Most of our vendors accept food stamps. Our Local Growers Guild also tries to work with underprivileged families During the summer market, the food bank parks a truck at the entrance to the market for donations. It's possible to buy small amounts of organic meats and local cheeses to flavor cheap dishes of grains and legumes. I refuse to believe that local food has to mean elitist food.

                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        Again, you are speaking of ONE market. That is NOT where the overwhelming majority of people in your area, city, or State shop.
                                                        Organic food IS more expensive and buying local artisanal cheeses can not be a priority for those using food stamps.
                                                        What part of "limited resources" is so hard to understand?
                                                        They may not choose to cook like you do. Diversity is what it is.

                                                        We have a similar market near my home. Completely wonderful. A branch of the renowned Dupont Circle Market where Alice Waters bought the provisions for the dinner she cooked the weekend of the Inauguration.
                                                        Changing neighborhood, so it gets the new contented yuppies. Still there are lots of students on limited incomes, the long-time middle income homeowners, but many people using EBT cards who might buy only one or two tomatoes at the height of summer.
                                                        The market is only open THREE hours a week. Three hours!
                                                        Across the road?
                                                        Murray's Steaks. A store so basic it doesn't even have a website I can link to but they have low, low prices and it's always packed.
                                                        SEVEN days a week, ALL DAY.
                                                        Because it has cheap prices which they advertise in circulars delivered by mail in the entire neighborhood.
                                                        Nine blocks up the road is a Safeway but that's a long way with no car and a couple of kids in tow. Especially to haul groceries back.

                                                        "Local" food to some people means where you BUY it, not where it was grown.
                                                        The "best" market is the one where your food dollar goes the furthest.
                                                        Not understanding THAT is elitist.

                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                          It's not elitist. I don't know why you are bringing so much judgmental commentary to this. Just eat as well as you can and don't worry about the rest of us. Nobody is judging you.

                                                          1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                            I think you've completely missed MakingSense's point. Alice Waters does not now, nor has she ever, played to the common man. Aaron Copeland she is not! She is a food snob. Or at least she was when she was first starting out and preaching dirty fingernails and fresh lettuce. 'Scuse me, but I've got two brown thumbs, and Alice Waters makes me feel I will burn in hell for it.

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              The last interview I heard with AW was on the show West Coast Live in 2007. She had just completed a project where she went into people's homes to explore the everyday ingredients we all have buried in our pantries. She then offered recipes and techniques to turn those things we all have into great dishes with simple additions. I believe she was promoting her book, The Art of Simple Food, which even includes a delicious recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich. Can't get much more "common man" than that.

                                                              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                Good for her! A step in the right direction. I don't mean to sound sour grapes and irreverent, but I'm wondering what sort of fabulous recipes she came up with for little old ladies with a seven year old jar of oregano in their cupboard? '-)

                                                                I know. I'm bad! Sorry.

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Caroline and Making Sense, what you hear as elitist and unrealistic about Alice Waters' approach to food, I hear as idealism. I have a very different sense of Alice Waters, in main part because of her work with Slow Foods to bring gardens to schools. She may take a somewhat esoteric approach to ingredients, and certainly, she has access to some of the best food on the planet, what with the growing season in CA and her relationship to growers, but my understanding of her passion for local and sustainable food is that she would love it to be for everyone. Her edible schoolyard project has become a model used around the country to bring an understanding of how food is grown to schools around the country. Here's one article: http://www.aarp.org/aarp/live_and_lea...

                                                                  I feel like there is a lingering attitude against organics/local/sustainable agriculture that I just don't understand at all. Organic vegetables, and the locally produced, sustainable food movement really is NOT ABOUT Whole Foods or such gourmet markets. It is more about the fact that our food should not be grown half a world away, especially produce. Further, small and medium sized farms and farmers can make a living growing specialty and organic produce MUCH BETTER than they can trying to grow corn or other commercial agricultural products. The future of the family farm is in local, sustainably grown agriculture. By supporting those growers to the best you can in your locality, while in season, even if it is somewhere like where I am, in Wisconsin, where we only have fresh, locally grown produce for 5 months of the year, is a really important thing. Our local supermarket in Madison, WI features local produce, as well as dairy and other meat products produced in the state. It's not a hippy-dippy co-op either, it's a big fat commercial supermarket. And prices are comparable to the national, commercial brands.

                                                                  There is no reason why we can't, where ever we are, spend a few minutes to see what is grown near us, and whether it's feasible to get that product into the local supermarket at an affordable price for the average convenience shopper. Making Sense's comment that "local food is to most people where you buy it" doesn't have to BE that. I know I might sound strident, but where our food is produced and how it is produced is going to be the health care crises of the next decade. Tuning into it now, and requesting that our neighborhood markets consider stocking food grown locally isn't that hard a challenge. It's actually very simple.

                                                                2. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                  She did surface briefly for her book tour to appeal to "the common man.".
                                                                  The Art of Simple Food must have been something of disappointment to fans of Chez Panisse. Or will they accept anything that she writes or says?
                                                                  It reads more like Letters from Le Petit Trianon.

                                                            2. re: MakingSense

                                                              I am not sure I understand your central argument, although I am trying. Alice Waters would agree with you that most people don't shop local, don't know from organic, and have limited choices. That is what she wants to change. She wants everyone to have the opportunities and choices that she does as a chef and she wants people to think about and want food differently. I think she has a good sense of practical realities because she has worked closely with public schools for years. She wants to change the way we as a nation approach food--to make it something more than fuel you buy froma fast food joint and eat in the car. In the way, she is very much like Child. Waters has different goals, and a different success rate. Waters could be like so many other famous chefs and open outposts of her restaurant or get a cooking show. she does neither. she is trying to teach her vision of incorporating her ideals of food into everyday life, starting with school kids. her vision may be impractical. and it may be elitist, but in a particular sense--she does think fresh and local (and etc.) is better than supermarket food. she also wants everyone to have the desire and ability to get better food--even by growing it yourself.

                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                I refuse to accept your definition of what constitutes "the best market." I prefer that my food dollars go to the hard-working people who grow it, not to some giant corporation. We've also never had a product recall for anything sold at the market.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  Pikawicca, all of us want hard working farmers to get a fair return on their labor but most individual farmers have no way of getting their products to consumers. They are far from urban centers.
                                                                  If the individual growers of wheat, oats, corn, etc. delivered their products by the truckload to supermarkets in Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, not only would it be a bookkeeping nightmare, but what would consumers do with the raw products? The carbon footprint from all the farm trucks would be ridiculous.
                                                                  Co-ops, brokers, and corporations are necessary middlemen in an increasingly urban society.

                                                                  The vast and overwhelming majority of Americans buy their food in supermarkets and that is not going to change.
                                                                  The "best" market for most people is increasingly the one on the way home from work. That could even be at 9 PM. Or 6 AM for a shift worker.
                                                                  The farmers' market in season in a growing trend but statistically it's still a very small market share.

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    Making Sense, commercial crops, such as wheat and oats and corn, are not the future of the small family farmers. If such farmers are to sustain themselves and their farms in the future, and not be eaten up by agricorporate conglomorates, they are going to be growing vegetables, in particular, organic, specialty crops for local consumption. It's a big movement in mid-and small sized farms. And if you ask your local supermarket to look into stocking locally produced produce, I bet you you will get good reception from the produce manager, and they will be receptive to the idea. Whole Foods is already doing it, and a LOT of local markets are, as well. My market in Madison, Wisconsin, stocks various items from local producers. It's NOT that hard for them to do.

                                                                2. re: MakingSense

                                                                  MakingSense: I'm no longer in the midwest or California, and must admit that I was completely surprised that the food from the farmer's markets and local dairies are cheaper than from the grocery store (all produce, eggs $2.50/dozen, milk $1.33/half gallon, ice cream $4/3 pints, seafood, dried mushrooms, peppers/garlic/onions/shallots $1/pint). Artisinal cheeses and locally grown meats are on par with the same at the large grocers. They're open 3 days a week, Thursday-Saturday, 9-6 during the winter.

                                                                  We've decided that when it comes to chicken and pork, we are more likely to get non-organic from the large grocers due to pricing.

                                                                  For the most part, we are buying locally produced and locally procured, saving money at the same time.

                                                                  Trenton Farmers Market
                                                                  960 Spruce St, Trenton, NJ

                                                                  Halo Farm
                                                                  970 Spruce St, Trenton, NJ

                                                                  1. re: Caralien

                                                                    I think this is a relatively new thing, and I'm not convinced it has much to do with Alice Waters. When I first moved to Plano (Dallas area) three and a half years ago, the local "farmers market" was an open air stall kind of place that had what they claimed was orgainic produce for prices that were generally ten to twenty cents a pound more than Albertson's or Kroger. I soon quit shopping there.

                                                                    In the last two to three months we have had two chain "farmer's markets", Sprouts and Sunflower, open and their prices for fresh organic produce are the cheapest in town for any produce, organic or not. Their prices in general are very good. And they make places like Central Market and Whole Foods look like bandits!! '-)

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Caroline1--I agree with a lot of the markets, and wasn't defending Alice Waters, only the notion that Farmer's Markets and local eating can be affordable to many. The first Farmer's Market I saw--Union Square NYC, 1989, was the snootiest and most overpriced and bug filled place. I equated organic with meaning overpriced, bug ridden, and prone to quick rot for many many years. Fortunately, it's gotten a lot better and more accessible since then.

                                                                      1. re: Caralien

                                                                        No, no, no. I didn't mean to imply you were defending Alice Waters. Sorry! And I DO love the new "farmer's market" concept. I'm a convert! Great food at affordable prices? What could be better than that! '-)

                                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                                          My experience was the reverse of yours, Caralien.
                                                                          I've shopped at farmers' markets my entire life, starting at the French Market in New Orleans when it was a real produce market. There were roadside trucks that we knew that we could depend on that always parked in the same places.
                                                                          I have always found them to be a much better source of fresh produce at lower prices than supermarkets.
                                                                          The newer markets that have opened where I live now have higher prices because they're trendy - those are the snooty, overpriced ones - but I still go to the older ones that I've patronized for more than 25 years. Producers, all local farmers, great prices on wonderful things.
                                                                          I think it's downright crazy for anyone with the time and means to get there not to shop at a farmers' market.

                                                                      2. re: Caralien

                                                                        But winter farmers' markets are not everywhere - here in the Boston area, they pretty much all close down by November. http://tinyurl.com/by38yc So that is just not always available to everyone.

                                                                        If I was fortunate enough to live in a place that had them year-round, I most certainly would shop there.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          The same is true here--there's only 1 open right now every week, plus the slow food winter market once per month. From your link, the Providence Winter Market looks like the only one remaining, open every Saturday, 11-2 (38 miles away from you):

                                                                          1. re: Caralien

                                                                            I saw the Providence link in another post - but it doesn't make any sense for me to drive 75 miles round trip for a food shopping trip.

                                                                3. re: pikawicca

                                                                  Yours is an old post, pikawicca, but I guess someone somewhere revived this thread. Anyway, if you have year round veggies at your Indiana farmer's market, you must not live where I live in northern Indiana (South Bend area). We have a great market here, and CSAs, but mid-WInter is lean times. I also lived in North Dakota many years, which is much worse in this respect (the place is buried in snow for 4 months minimum). That also happens to be where I first came to hear of Alice Waters, and while I appreciate what she does, I found her to be rather smug and unrealisitic about the "buy fresh and local" approach.

                                                                  That said, I admit that it is possible even in North Dakota to have a go of it, but you'd have to get into a serious regimen of preserving, canning, confit-ing, etc. ,just like old times. Fresh is out; but local is possible.

                                                                  I also happen to have family roots in the CA Bay Area and know it well. That place is the easiest of any place I know in which to think like Alice Waters.

                                                                  1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                    I live in Bloomington, where more and more of our local growers are using hoop houses and solar greenhouses to grow an amazing variety of produce throughout the winter months. Our winter market usually has: salad mix, spinach, collards, kale, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggs, chicken, cheese,tofu, bread, and various meats. Also lots of prepared foods. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but it's paid off for everyone. Now, if someone could just figure out how to grow a decent tomato indoors...

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Someone should start a hydroponic farm, some of the tomatoes from the ones around Leamington, ON (Canadian tomato country, lots of US canners and processors use field tomatoes from there) are really quite tasty. Not fabulous but a heck of a lot better than Mexican or CA winter toms.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Those of us in New England get that from Backyard Farms in Madison, Maine:


                                                                        They are pretty darn good!

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          I'm always happy to see Leamington (or Canada) on tomatoes and tomato products. Even the Campari ones have a nice flavor, a bit more acid than even the best toms here. (My dad told me - whether based in fact or not, although he was quite reliable on technical matters - that the hydroponic industry got started in Ontario because of there being an abundance of heated water due to a nuclear power plant. Non-radioactive, of course.)

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            the hydroponic industry got started in Ontario because of there being an abundance of heated water due to a nuclear power plant. Non-radioactive, of course.)
                                                                            Those would be some big-ass tomatoes if it were radioactive. ;-)

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Either that - or some pretty mean weapons for La Tomatina! :-)

                                                                                (I still cringe at the waste with that festival, however.)

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  It's wasteful but a step up from rocks, which is what some traditional festivals featured as missiles!

                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                    Fewer participants when they use rocks. ;-)

                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                        That sounds terrific. If the people out there know of initiatives like that up in northern Indiana, I'll be grateful for any tips about it. I'll ask at the market here soon, of course.

                                                                4. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                  You've actually argued yourself right back into agreement with Making Sense on this one. "It is true she gets better quality than most..." is exactly the point. Waters' insists that that quality is essential. She can get the quality, you (or whoever) can't, as a general rule. Most people don't have the time, resources or opportunity to foster relationships in the way she has. Good for her for fostering them, but it'd be great if she could learn to acknowledge reality a bit more.

                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                    I think you might want to consider the spirit of her ideas and not get caught up in the specifics of which particular ingredients you can find. The concept of local and seasonal is a response to the mass-marketing and industrialized production of ingredients that dominates our national food system. Sadly, not all tomatoes are created equal these days. Quality, nutrition, and taste suffer as a result. The whole point is to take a step back towards the farm and try to eat food that ripens naturally and travels less to get to you. You don't have to know farmers in order to chose a farmers market over a supermarket. In this way you can enjoy healthier, tastier food. The point is to get the best food YOU can find among the choices available to you. Nobody, not even Alice Waters, is saying that her recipes are the only way. She is providing an example in the hopes of illustrating her points and providing inspiration. I've heard her speak and have read her and have never detected the judgmental tone you are assigning to her. Sorry, I think you're missing the point. You don't have to cook her food to take part in the ideals she promotes.

                                                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                      I have considered the spirit of her ideas. I like what the initial spirit of her ideas was and what that spirit continues represents. I think it's good and I think many people would be better off if those core ideas were to be more prevalent beliefs in people who deal with food in the United States both in terms of policy and in terms of cooking.

                                                                      I think Alice Waters is actually saying, at this point, that her way is the only way. I think she has, to use the cliche, read her own press. This is one of those situations where I don't think either of us is missing the point, we simply disagree.

                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                        >>I think Alice Waters is actually saying, at this point, that her way is the only way.<<

                                                                        While I think you might be reading more stridency into her position than she ever intended, as one who is working on a graduate degree in this area, i.e. agricultural economics, I think you are downplaying the crises our food systems are in. The entire safety and wholesomeness of the food we obtain through hook and by crook today, is one which is not sustainable. When an entire state's tomato crop has to be plowed under because of an untimely diagnosis of problems with crops that have come in from Mexico (last year's "salsa" incident, where Florida lost its entire tomato crop, while the FDA and USDA tried to figure out where the contaminated salsa ingredient came from, first they thought tomatoes, then peppers, the finally green onions from Mexico), but in the meanwhile, the delay tanked a whole state's worth of tomatoes. This kind of thing wouldn't happen if WE KNEW WHERE OUR FOOD CAME FROM. It would be better for consumers, better for small farmers, better for restaurants, pretty much better for everyone, other than the corporate approach that dominates today, which treats all crops as a commodity, rather than as a unique product worthy of tracing its roots and keeping it intact throughout the distribution process.

                                                              2. re: pikawicca

                                                                I was struck by the contrast between this 'eat local' trend and comments that Joseph Bastianich made on his mother's show, about the wonder of being able to get freshly made artisinal cheese via overnight shipping from Italy. He was talking about some sort of filled mozzarella ball. We are in world where there a competing trends or fads - eat local, and eat exotic.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  You're absolutely right: I buy produce locally, but call a fish vendor in Seattle to find out what fish just came in the door. The local fish options are, basically, nonexistent.

                                                            3. Sorry, this is one of those unanswerable questions on a par with "what Newscaster is most like Walter Cronkite?" or "What Oscar host was most like Bob Hope?" (scary, there are probably a lot of folks on here who never knew Hope always hosted the Oscars!)

                                                              Julia Child, like many of Russ Morash's "creations" was unique and first in combining an ability to teach and an engaging personality. She was not an entertainer, per se, as many of the current food show hosts try to be.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                  +1. Sadly, trying to explain to a child who Julia Child was, it's hard to use an example, but Rachel Ray is just as adequate an example as nearly any other female tv chef. There a few who are better, but it hardly matters to a child. The kid wouldn't understand all of the things that Julia brought to the world, and doesn't need to.

                                                                  1. re: madgreek

                                                                    That's exactly what I was thinking. It is hard to come up with an example and while I initially rolled my eyes at the idea of RR, I can't come up with a better answer.

                                                                    1. re: madgreek

                                                                      and RR did bring the change in mentality that preparing a home-cooked meal daily was not that burdensome or time consuming. Whether she uses "convenience" foods or not, to me, is more or less important. The fact that she steers viewers towards cooking more at home is, and eventually - and hopefully! - these viewers will continue to hone their skills and refine their choices of ingredients. (btw, I'm not a huge fan of hers, but I do appreciate how "affordable" she makes home cooking look)

                                                                2. First of all, there is no "s" anywhere in Julia's name. It is Child. And Julia was not "really" a chef, and never claimed to be. She always said she was a home cook, and that no chef ever wrote a recipe for only 4 people, as all hers were. She was a premier cooking teacher and author, and she was professionally trained.

                                                                  Imho, there is no equivalent today to her on Tv, certainly not Rachael Ray. On PBS, Lidia displays the professionalism and thoroughness and knowledge as Julia did, but on the food network, no one remains who is in that league. Sara Moulton would qualify, but not for personality.

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                    And I think what separates Julia Child from the TV chefs we have today is her influence off camera. She opened us up to the culinary arts and gave a generation permission to create good food. I can't think of one chef who has written an equivalent to "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

                                                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                      i think that m. hazan's "essentials of italian cooking" etc. is seen as an (italian) equivalent to MTAOFC by many folks. not taking anything away from julia or MTAOFC because as you say, this work was incredibly influential.

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        and i think diana kennedy's books did a great deal to crack open regional mexican cuisine for english-language folks, too. there are many others, none of which were really as influential as MTAOFC, because that book in so many ways started the whole thing. it demystified food and became a culinary window to "foreign" culture for many people. it paved the way for all of this interest in food and culture and regionally specific ingredients that we have today. a lot that we take for granted would be very different if it weren't for MTAOFC.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          Moreso than Kennedy's wonderful book, Child's and Hazan's, plus other fine works about European food, were accessible to Americans since the majority of those in the US trace their roots to Eastern or Western Europe. They provided an opportunity to back up the Americanized versions of home cooking to their roots and as international travel became more affordable, Americans wanted to learn these cuisines. The basic flavors were familiar and the ingredients were easily obtainable for the most part.

                                                                          I think accessibility was a huge part of Julia Child's appeal. Both in her personality and in her food.
                                                                          Kennedy's book used many ingredients that weren't widely available. You couldn't find them in standard American grocery stores.
                                                                          The amusing reaction to Hazan's books was always, "What? No oregano? Where's the garlic?" Old habits die hard.
                                                                          Julia eased us out of the American culinary doldrums.

                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            I'm not sure I agree with "American culinary doldrums." Well, in a sense, yes. The Eisenhower years. Mamie Eisenhower's influence on the nation's psyche was less than glamorous, what with her decorating the portico of the White House with dime store paper witches taped to the columns and corn stalks tied around them. Nevertheless, from the scintillating days of Careme and Escoffier, haute cuisine had been the epitome of "good food" in the U.S. Top restaurants and hotel dining rooms across the country featured it, but it was somewhat akin to caviar; not something you grew in your own back yard!

                                                                            And that's what Julia Child's unique and very special talent was. She showed us how to grow haute cuisine right in our very own kitchens.

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              It's easy to look at those years as naive from the perspective of today.
                                                                              But really. We forget that there was as much a sense of excitement about Ike then as there is about Obama today. The Hero of Europe who promised to end the Conflict in Korea and return us to prosperity. America didn't come out of the Depression, War rationing, Korea, or the economic strains until two years into the Eisenhower Administration when the stock market finally began to recover.

                                                                              Mamie was a military wife and the White House relied on military cooks and staff. It was lovely but hardly glamorous, and probably appropriate for the times. Few ordinary Americans had anything. There might have been top flight foods in expensive restaurants and hotels but most average Americans were grateful simply to return to some sense of normalcy, to have jobs, and to begin to climb to the middle class after the long bleak years of deprivation. Escoffier? Not in Levittown. Such a simple time.

                                                                              Julia Child began her show on WGBH is 1963 - only a few months before Kennedy was assassinated. America was in love with all things French.
                                                                              Timing is everything in life.
                                                                              We all wanted to know how to cook THAT wonderful food that had taken us from our now-solid middle class lives to the glamor that the Kennedys had given our country.
                                                                              She was giving us all a piece of it. No wonder it was a hit.

                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                ***It's easy to look at those years as naive from the perspective of today.***

                                                                                LOL! I wasn’t. I was looking back on those years as an active participant of those times. ‘-)

                                                                                ***But really. We forget that there was as much a sense of excitement about Ike then as there is about Obama today. The Hero of Europe who promised to end the Conflict in Korea and return us to prosperity. America didn't come out of the Depression, War rationing, Korea, or the economic strains until two years into the Eisenhower Administration when the stock market finally began to recover.***

                                                                                Except! Just as there are those who are not all that excited about Obama winning today, Eisenhower had his detractors. No one, including those sporting “I Like Ike” buttons, thought he was a god incarnate. And I have no idea where you came up with the idea that America didn’t come “out of the Depresssion, War rationing, Korea, or the economic strains until two years into the Eisenhower Administration… …” Do a little research and I’m sure you’ll come to see that the economy and lack of individual wealth was the great prohibitor of people cooking upscale and/or French food in their own kitchens. “The New Deal” and Roosevelt’s programs were the equivalent of a “government bailout’ of the entire country from the financial morass of the Great Depression. And it worked!

                                                                                America was very close to recovery from the Great Depression and an end to Soup Kitchens when World War II jumped on the county’s back, and World War II put an almost instantaneous end to the financial deprivation of the Great Depression, BUT the rationing of WWII made the luxuries of life just as unavailable as the problem of not being able to afford them had. But there was always the black market!

                                                                                The critical factor when it comes to the average American’s knowledge and desire for “French food” and luxury items and the public’s knowledge of them was not erased simply because of the Great Depression, World War II, or any other twist or turn of history. Consider this: Over the last several months, BILLIONS of dollars have vanished into thin air. Now, how much of your knowledge of food (or anything else, for that matter) has vanished into thin air along with those missing dollars? I dare say none.

                                                                                And so it was with food knowledge of those years. “French cooking” was never out of the public’s awareness. The interest in cooking it themselves was not there. It was something aspired to dine on, but not to cook.

                                                                                ***Mamie was a military wife and the White House relied on military cooks and staff. It was lovely but hardly glamorous, and probably appropriate for the times. Few ordinary Americans had anything. There might have been top flight foods in expensive restaurants and hotels but most average Americans were grateful simply to return to some sense of normalcy, to have jobs, and to begin to climb to the middle class after the long bleak years of deprivation. Escoffier? Not in Levittown. Such a simple time.***

                                                                                Wow! I usually admire your breadth of knowledge, but you’ve dropped your batting average a whole bunch of notches on this one! Francois Rysavy was the White House chef during the Eisenhower years, as well as for the Truman White House. I was very much an “ordinary American,” and I had a lot. A lot of people did a whole lot of PR to polish Mamie Eisenhower’s image, including Mamie Eisenhower. Or maybe especially Mamie Eisenhower?

                                                                                Consider this: All of the GIs that returned after World War II, and there was one hell of a lot of them, may have been battle scarred and knowledgeable about war, but they were also WORLD TRAVELERS! And since World War II was NOT fought from permanent bases with mess halls and barracks, the military in all theaters, Europe and the Pacific, loved getting away from field rations and making friends with the natives and enjoying native food. Eisenhower certainly did. He was a MUCH better cook than Mamie, and even during the White House years cooked barbecues and such. Those times were not naïve at all, and many returning GIs brought European and Japanese cuisine home with them. Sometimes they were the cooks, sometimes their “war brides” were the cooks. But an expansion of culinary knowledge was rampant, and only enriched the knowledge of French and other national cuisines that was already present in t his country..

                                                                                ***Julia Child began her show on WGBH is 1963 - only a few months before Kennedy was assassinated. America was in love with all things French.
                                                                                Timing is everything in life.

                                                                                We all wanted to know how to cook THAT wonderful food that had taken us from our now-solid middle class lives to the glamor that the Kennedys had given our country.
                                                                                She was giving us all a piece of it. No wonder it was a hit.***

                                                                                You need to watch a whole lot more of the movies from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s! Maybe check out a few New York Times Best Sellers lists from then too. ‘-)

                                                                    2. re: ChefJune

                                                                      i'll agree with most of what you said, but i think i'd even go further. context is one of the most important things with understanding julia. look at her old shows and, quite frankly, they're not that great. but she was talking to an audience that didn't know anything about the kind of food she was talking about. it was her enthusiasm for that kind of cooking that helped change the way america ate. others can contribute bits and pieces (and i'd agree that alice has made her contributions). but you can't repeat your first time. and there will always only be one julia.

                                                                    3. Don't know if her show airs nationwide, but I really dig Joanne Weir and her "cooking class" teevee show. She has a regular Joe or Josephine (No, not the Plumber or the 6-pack...) who she talks through one or two dishes. She's down to earth, warm and a good teacher. But, alas, she isn't Julia. Maybe someone can convince Dan Aykroyd to don his Julia drag again and host a new show?! Adam

                                                                      1. I think your question is similar to asking, "Who is our Joan of Arc today?" I know. I know. It sounds like a total non sequitur, but think about it. If either of those women had come along ten or twenty years before or after they burst upon the scene, it's highly improbable that we would have the faintest idea of who they were today. So in the sense that Julia Child made Rachel Ray's success possible through her groundbreaking role, it's not a bad comparison. But there are a whole bunch of others who could be named instead of Rachel Ray. Because so many styles of cooking are so available and doable to everyone today, it's not possible for anyone to hold a place equivalent to Julia Child. Well, not in the U.S. anyway.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          Forty years from now, will anyone be making a movie about any of the other folks mentioned above? Probably not.

                                                                        2. I'm not sure what kind of reaction I'll get to this, but I'll say Alton Brown should be mentioned. He champions good ingredients, his cooking show is entirely focused on teaching not just about the process, but about the how and why of everything he does/uses. He certainly does not have the notoriety of an RR, and he doesn't create new dishes, but he does a good personality (if a little much at times) and I certainly find that I consistently learn things while watching Good Eats. I think really though, I have to echo the other posters here, there really isn't someone you could point to and say, "That's the Child of today."

                                                                          72 Replies
                                                                          1. re: gastrotect

                                                                            If gender is not an issue, I'd certainly think of Julia's friend and colleague Jacques Pepin. Certainly Lidia is an excellent teacher and her enthusiasm is infectious, but Julia was one of a kind. Besides, who else today would rate a Saturday Night Live parody?

                                                                            1. re: markabauman

                                                                              In light of the most popular SNL parody from last October, I don't think SNL is a good indicator of greatness :) . I've seen 'how to make a nuclear reactor in your kitchen' types of parodies of Martha. A parody of RR would be instantly recognizable.

                                                                              1. re: markabauman

                                                                                Jacques Pepin was my first thought as well (and somebody above also mentioned him). Perhaps I thought of him b/c because of that wonderful series of shows they did together before she died. I still enjoy going back and listening to their banter. Like her, he is humble and a populist in his touch, and definitely seems to truly love food (rather than the glare of the lights).

                                                                                1. re: Cachetes

                                                                                  Also, Pepin is a dean at the French Culinary Institute and is widely respected as a teacher by his peers, students and a large TV audience. I think that this is probably the most important aspect of comparing anyone to Julia: they must be a great teacher. Few measure up.

                                                                                  Someone mentioned Emeril, and believe it or not, I think he's trying to be what he saw Julia as. He was on her show as a young NOLA chef, and has always mentioned how much he respected what she did. I think his quitting TVFN and doing his one-on-one teaching show on Planet Green is because of his desire to be a teacher at this stage of his career. He's not there yet - too much "bamming" to overcome, but he may yet get there. He does get a lot of respect from his peers - even Bourdain!

                                                                              2. re: gastrotect

                                                                                Alton Brown is an actor with a cooking show. The fact that he graduated from NECI doesn't give him one bit of credibility in the culinary community.

                                                                                He has a big following on tvfn, and is for some folks, a bit of a lovable geek. However to mention him in the same breath as Julia is, imho, way out of whack. He gets most of the info he recites on tv from behind the scenes folks at the network, and the science from Shirley Corriher. Folks who doubt that should pay close attention to his performance on Iron Chef America, where he has to extemporize, and where he often mispronounces basic terms and makes misstatements.

                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                  ...what did you expect him to memorize every single information and pull it out at whim? And, pronunciation doesn't mean anything it's a personal preference.

                                                                                  He's not Julia Child but he does teach the average home cook how things are done and imo, better than most chefs on tv today. What more do you want?! What constitutes as credibility?!

                                                                                  1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                    ChefJune is just pointing out that AB does not run a restaurant and is not known in any way for being a chef. Which is all well and good. My point is that from an education standpoint I think he has a good personality and does a great job of using his show to promote good ingredients as well being knowledgeable about what we eat. In that sense I think he deserves a mention in the conversation. I did not mean to imply that he is even close to Child on any level, just that he uses some of the "tools" she did.

                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                      Chef June uses considerably stronger words than 'just not run a restaurant', such as "to mention him in the same breath as Julia is ... way out of whack". In other words, she totally disagrees with your mention of AB. But if Julia is seen primarily as a TV cooking educator, then AB does deserve mention.

                                                                                      Chef June, where did Julia get the information that she provided on her shows? Where did she get her food science from? Or did she figure out everything for herself?

                                                                                      Regarding Julia, did she ever run a restaurant? What kind of credibility did she have in the 'culinary community'? Was she see as an authority on French cuisine (or good cooking in general), or just admired for bring it to the American masses?

                                                                                      I don't recall if I've ever watched a full show of Julia's cooking. Over the years I've watched, and read, more of Jacques's work.

                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                        <Chef June, where did Julia get the information that she provided on her shows? Where did she get her food science from? Or did she figure out everything for herself?>

                                                                                        Julia was a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, ran a cooking school in Paris with the two women with whom she co-authored Mastering 1. She never ever tried to come across as an authority on everything about cooking, but she researched her recipes thoroughly and used outside sources when she needed to, as does AB. (FWIW, Alton Brown does not deny that he went to NECI so he could get a cooking show. He was an out of work actor who found himself a niche, and good for him! However, now he comes across as the only one who knows anything, and it's a fraud.)

                                                                                        <Regarding Julia, did she ever run a restaurant? What kind of credibility did she have in the 'culinary community'? Was she see as an authority on French cuisine (or good cooking in general), or just admired for bring it to the American masses?>

                                                                                        Julia never ran a restaurant, never wanted to, and never, ever claimed to be a chef. She was a teacher and writer. and a great one. In the culinary community, she is revered because she was always willing to share her knowledge with her colleagues, not only on how to cook, but also serving as major mentor for hundreds of us who are in the industry today. She gave back and gave back and gave back.

                                                                                        To some of the American public, perhaps she is "just another cooking show emcee/teacher, but that would be too bad, if true.

                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          "However, now he comes across as the only one who knows anything, and it's a fraud."
                                                                                          I've never gotten that impression from Alton's shows, whether it be GE, ICA, or the road trips

                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                          Paul, all of the information you're asking about is readily available on the web. Why not look it up yourself instead of asking others to do it for you? '-)

                                                                                          That said, for the record, Julia Child lived in France for several years with her husband, and it was there that she learned French cooking. Learned it well. She never ran a restaurant that I know of. There is lots of information on the web about how she came to host "The French Chef" TV show on WGBH in Boston. And America was very ready to learn a little something about French cooking simply because John F. Kennedy had just succeeded Dwight David Eisenhower as President of the United States. John F. Kennedy's wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, was quite sophisticated, extremely attractive, and immediately captured the world's heart, not just America's. It was her love of French cooking that created the receptivity in the eyes of the Americn public for Julia Child, and made Americans eager to learn. There's lots more to learn and read on the web.

                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            But it's so much more fun to ask people to defend their position :)

                                                                                            I know very well that it possible to find information like this on the web.

                                                                                            I almost feel like I questioned the canonization of someone's favorite saint. :)

                                                                                      2. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                        <...what did you expect him to memorize every single information and pull it out at whim? And, pronunciation doesn't mean anything it's a personal preference.>

                                                                                        If he doesn't KNOW something, it would be good to pass it over and not make misstatements. I said he does well where he is following a script, but not when he has to talk about the food off the top of his head. Seems to me that after this many episodes of ICA, he would have it down better.

                                                                                        and I totally disagree about pronouncing cooking terms and foods correctly. It is NOT a personal preference, or haven't you ever heard of a dictionary?

                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          I'm not sure why you're holding this particular yardstick up to Alton Brown, but not to others. There is absolutely no denying that Emeril Lagasse is an extremely knowledgeable chef, yet he makes blunders in pronunciation AND technique with some regularity. That does not negate the fact that's he's an outstanding chef. As a matter of fact, I cannot think of one single chef on television, now or in the past and including Julia Child, who has not made errors on camera. The tension of time constraints, positioning yourself so the cameraman can get optimum shots, looking into an inanimate object and talking to it as if it was your best friend, and then the pressure of getting the right ingredient into the right container trips everyone up from time to time, great and small. I don't think Alton Brown has that market cornered.

                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            It isn't a matter of being on camera, it's a matter of knowledge. Alton has huge gaps, especially in the area of ethnic foods, which comes across all too often. Morimoto gets beat up by his butchering and ignorance every time out. And of all the people that shouldn't have TV gaffs, it's him - that's his background. Long before culinary school, he was behind the camera, directing and producing ads and music videos.

                                                                                            Of course, Julia was famous for her gaffs - but they were fun, never making her look stupid. Alton looks stupid a lot, and that's because he tries to come across as a know-it-all.

                                                                                            If you're actually learning something new from Alton, it's probably just because you can't read. If you had read the books by McGee and Corriher, you'd be able to point to the page he's reading off of that week. Ok, he actually re-writes the stuff - he is a screenwriter (isn't everybody?), but the sequence of facts and the presentation of the details is often unchanged.

                                                                                            This guy is a poseur. About as far from Julia, the real thing, as you can get.

                                                                                      3. re: ChefJune

                                                                                        For home cooks interested in learning the basics, it probably doesn't matter a bit whether Alton Brown has "credibility in the culinary community" whatever that it. Does it matter if he's on Alice Waters' Christmas card list? They just want to improve their knowledge and that may be the strongest parallel with Julia.

                                                                                        We're trying to compare two entirely different media environments.
                                                                                        A cooking show on public television in the 1960s was revolutionary. It was one of a kind and Julia taught basic techniques. We learned from her show.
                                                                                        Now every talk show has cooking segments and there's an entire network devoted to cooking.
                                                                                        Alton stands out because he teaches. He devotes an entire show to a single subject and the science around it. Three ways to make chocolate chip cookies and how varying the recipe produces different results. How to make biscuits or a prime rib.
                                                                                        In his own way, he is like Julia, one of a kind, teaching basic techniques in a way from which the home cook can learn the basics.

                                                                                        No one ever faulted Julia's pleasantly bumbling speaking style or her non-native French. To non-New Englanders, she "talked funny."
                                                                                        So others might find Alton "real" or a PITA. So what?
                                                                                        They both seek/sought outside experts. Don't we all seek to expand out knowledge?

                                                                                        Julia was sui generis because that was a special time in America. That's why she got the Presidental Medal of Freedom and her kitchen is in the Smithsonian.
                                                                                        Alton will never be Julia. No one will be. But he may be the only real teacher on TV right now on Good Eats which is what she was on WGBH for that period in time.

                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                          So a person lives in France with her husband. She attends the Cordon Bleu and learns all about cooking great food. She works with others to develop techniques and recipes and write a cook book, which becomes a reference book. Once back in the US, she reluctantly goes in front of a camera where her husband now works, teaching what she knows in a completely pioneering way - she breaks new ground, as she evangelizes about great technique and great food. She spends her entire career teaching - writing more books, making shows not only of herself but with new young talent, to expose them and their cooking to the world. She works with seasoned talent, who admire her for her lifelong dedication to teaching people about great food.

                                                                                          So there's this guy that makes music videos, and decides that too many people are making music videos - he'd rather be making money doing food shows. He knows nothing about food so he attends a cooking school. He signs on with a Food Network that caters to mediocrity and needs an interesting spin that they can sell to the mediocre marketplace. He decides on doing a show with a nerdy character with a pseudo-science spin to food, and finds some applicable resources so he can write and then tape some shows.

                                                                                          So how, exactly, are these two alike?

                                                                                          BTW, Julia grew up in California and was a world-traveler - she never, ever, had a New England accent. Ironically, Georgia boy grew up in California as well - probably why he doesn't sound like Paula Deen.

                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                            Look. There IS NO EQUAL of Julia Child today plainly and simply because the world is no longer as Julia found it. Period.

                                                                                            Now, you really seem to have a problem with Alton Brown. The simple answer to that one is don't watch him. '-)

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              I agree; it was Julia and the context of her show (time in history) which makes her unique.
                                                                                              When I watch Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Lidia B and on the rare occasion catch a glimpse of Marcella Hazan, I feel I am really learning. The lighthearted, humorous Julia - can't think of anyone who has that charisma and still have credibility.

                                                                                            2. re: applehome

                                                                                              They are alike in that each of them fits the media environment of their day while still teaching.
                                                                                              None of us would argue that Alton Brown can hold a candle to Julia Child but then the Food Network in general is far below the calibre of what Julia Child offered. Brown is a product of his times.

                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                There is one parallel one can make. If Julia found the American palate in need of awakening, and the American housewife ready to learn new techniques, new ingredients, and great food in an era of more and more packaged goods, then we can say that our period is much the same, just further along. Packaged foods are a greater share of the marketplace than ever before, and the American palate is indeed awakening at a greater pace than ever before. Sushi, Thai, Korean bbq, Brazilian Churasco etcetc... great new stuff - with so many dumbed down versions. So where are the teachers of today to help us up these more complex paths?

                                                                                                There are plenty of teachers - there needs to be, as the subject matter is so vast. Alton just isn't one of them. Alton knows nothing about these things. He could no more extol the virtues of real kalbi than explain (without notes from MCGee's book) the difference between a Maillard reaction and caramelization. (BTW, not that some renown chefs like Anita Lo can, either.)

                                                                                                Alton is an entertainer, a performer. Not a teacher. Saying that both he and Julia are teachers is so wrong, wrong, wrong. I watch Alton to be entertained. I still watch Julia every time something of hers is on, to learn something. Teaching is about learning and truly understanding something, analyzing it, and then creating a way to present it in the appropriate pedagogical manner. Julia did this from the start with Mastering the Art of French Cooking. To say that Alton does the equivalent, by today's standard, with his foam cutouts, silly rules, often incidental techniques and simplified explanations, is ludicrous. Today's standards have not fallen by that much - people were able to learn from Julia in the 60's, and they would do so now. AB is an entertainer, a performer - nothing more.

                                                                                              2. re: applehome

                                                                                                "He knows nothing about food so he attends a cooking school."

                                                                                                Same could be said about Julia Child before she attended cooking school (and she would have been the first to admit it).

                                                                                                There's really no point in trashing Alton Brown's motives (assuming you lived in his head at some point) because we're well over a decade down the road from his graduation and his TV culinary career. It's wrong-headed to suggest he knows nothing about food. He may not possess innate knowledge but he has a healthy curiosity about his subject along with the ability to communicate to the masses. Of course he's not Julia Child, but in the same way others have noted here about groundbreaking talent like Sinatra, once the true innovators have led the way others can't possibly be more than imitators.

                                                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                                                  It's wrong-headed to suggest he knows nothing about food. He may not possess innate knowledge but he has a healthy curiosity about his subject along with the ability to communicate to the masses.
                                                                                                  And could that statement not also apply to the many knowledgeable folks who post on CH?

                                                                                                  Healthy curiosity about food - Check.
                                                                                                  Ability to communicate - Check. (albeit a different form of communication)

                                                                                                  There are many people here who know a helluva lot more about food than I do - and I learn from them on a daily basis. So if someone says Alton Brown "knows nothing about food", then I guess we don't either?

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    We (the people in CH) are clearly not making a living being curious about food or providing whatever knowledge we have in whatever form we can. At least, most of us. Clearly, Alton is doing exactly that.

                                                                                                    That Alton planned this career out and took steps to make it happen is definitely to his credit. He knew nothing, he went to school with the intent of learning something, and he now presents himself as a learned person. A question may now be whether he's really doing it well or not, but that aside for the moment, he undertook the path of becoming a TV food guru, and here he is.

                                                                                                    Julia undertook no such path, at least not deliberately. She went to cooking school for her own knowledge, with no special career in mind, nor any intent to become an authority on anything. She became passionate about what she learned and worked long and hard on a cookbook - developing recipes, noting methods and techniques, then serendipity took those first steps into TV for her. That she was then able to apply herself in the now-chosen field of TV food shows was special, indeed, but neither deliberate nor planned. She developed into a great TV teacher, one who could communicate passion as well as technique. She continued, for years to teach with passion and demonstrated a thorough knowledge and understanding of French cooking. Her passion extended well beyond her area of expertise, to include showcasing other talented chefs cooking all manner of foods.

                                                                                                    To suggest, then that these two have equivalencies, that they're both teachers (whether of equal capability), simply to say that they both do the same thing, to me, is very wrong. One is a hack, whose goal is to have a TV food show, and relies on other people's research and slick TV production techniques. The other is a food teacher.

                                                                                                    It is, indeed, no skin off my back if people think that Alton is God, and that he is the best thing since Julia Child. It only demonstrates, to me, their understanding of food and of what teaching people about food is all about. It significantly lowers my estimation of their qualifications in judging serious food, seriously. In terms of judging the entertainment value of a TV show, Alton is indeed an enjoyable personality, and anyone saying so is certainly qualified - at least as qualified as I am to judge TV shows' entertainment value! Maybe he ought to be compared to Orson Welles - no grape juice before it's time!

                                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                                      "One is a hack, whose goal is to have a TV food show, and relies on other people's research and slick TV production techniques. The other is a food teacher."

                                                                                                      There it is again. He decided on a TV food show as a career, attended a credible culinary institution that has graduated a number of well-regarded culinary professionals. Graduated with the same credits and training as any other student, developed a TV concept and has more than a decade of production of that program under his belt. But he's a "hack" because his motives aren't "pure."

                                                                                                      Do you ask the surgeon who performs your operation whether he/she attended medical school for pure motives? You need to look at what a person has accomplished.

                                                                                                      Alton Brown is certainly no Julia Child but he's far from a "hack".

                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                        At some point, the entire thing stopped being about specialty food.
                                                                                                        Alton Brown understood that.
                                                                                                        He didn't NEED Julia Child's depth of knowledge to succeed in today's food media climate which is personality driven and required to have gimmicks to succeed.
                                                                                                        He saw the opening and he grabbed it.
                                                                                                        Alton Brown gives viewers about as much technique and science as they're willing to accept on a general interest program that is MARKETABLE on the Food Network.
                                                                                                        Serious cooks, interested in niche cuisines, can find what they want and need on YouTube and DVDs or in books and specialty classes. There is not a wide enough market for these to make them commercially viable.
                                                                                                        Repeat: commercially viable.
                                                                                                        Remember that there are only 24 hours a day of programming on the Food Network and that time has to pay the bills.
                                                                                                        Alton Brown pays the bills.

                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                          The Food Network has always been about entertainment. It's not a substitute for a culinary education and has never pretended to be. It's a way for people who would otherwise eat frozen or take-out to brave the kitchen and make something once in a while or take a sporadic pasta/meatloaf cook in a different direction. Anyone who expects to learn serious skills needs to work on them outside of a cooking show.

                                                                                                          As Gordon Ramsay once notably pointed out his cookbooks are for someone who has several hours to dedicate to preparing a dish - not for people who are trying to put together a quick meal. Food TV is about quick meals and shortcuts.

                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                            Television food shows have always been about entertainment.
                                                                                                            Then and now.
                                                                                                            What entertained people years ago when Julia started her show is different from what entertains them today.
                                                                                                            In neither case did serious cooks "expect to learn serious skills" from the shows.

                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                              You have to remember that cooking on TV was nearly non-existent. And you had 4 or 5 channels to choose from. Julia was filling a void and creating an entertainment form at the same time.

                                                                                                              Today, with hundreds of available channels, there's more food on TV than anyone could hope to deal with -- and attention spans and lifestyles that do not lend themselves to leisurely food prep.

                                                                                                              There is no contemporary Julia Child because that moment has come and gone. Just like there's no contemporary Walter Cronkite.

                                                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                Come on. Local stations used cooking as time fillers because network programming was so limited. They were everywhere in "regular" America.
                                                                                                                Beginning October 1953, Kraft Television Theatre was created to promote Cheez Whiz. There were commercials for Kraft and other food company products all though the 1950s and early 60s that were as long as some Food Network segments today. Live TV, scene changes, etc.
                                                                                                                That's where the recipes came from for things like cream cheese frosting and all sorts of dips and spreads that we use today. TV food from commercials!!!!
                                                                                                                No, there weren't 4 or 5 channels. Most small towns in America were lucky to have one network affiliate and maybe a competitor, and a public broadcasting station was a big deal.
                                                                                                                They still had to find "local personalities" to fill their airtime.

                                                                                                                We've really come full circle from local stations filling time to hundreds of cable stations airing too much junk.

                                                                                                                Of course there's no more Walter Cronkite. We all stopped trusting him when he started giving us his opinion. We just wanted the hard facts.

                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                  Whoa whoa whoa! Don't know what kind of TV market you're talking about, but my family got our first TV set in 1948. ROUND picture tube! Black and white. And test patterns of an Indian with gradient gray stripes around the edges. Friends used to come home from school with me to watch the test pattern. Broadcasts started at 3:30 or 4:00. I grew up in San Diego suburbs, and within a year or so we were getting NBC, ABC, Mutual Network, I don't remember what year CBS came along, but if they were alive, we got them, and then we picked up Channels 5, 9 and 11 Independent stations form LA. If memory serves, it was mid to latish 50s before PBS came on the scene. I was majoring in television broadcast at /San Diego State in the early 50s, and Ken Jones, the primary mover and shaker of the TV curricula, applied for the call letters "KPBS for our campus TV station as soon as PBS came into being, and got them. I thini the Mutual Broadcasting Network may have died a bit before PBS was born.

                                                                                                                  In the early 50s, Betty Furness was pitching appliances on TV. I watched my fair share of TV in those days, and for the life of me I cannot remember one "recipe" from a TV commercial. Well, unless you want to call a commercial for how to make Jell-O a recipe. It was an "animated commercial." Opened on a mother's hands pouring Jell-O granules into a bowl, then puring boiling water into a measuring cup from a kettle, adding it to the Jell-O and stirring, into the refrigerator, cutting the set Jell-O into wobbly shaky cubes, putting some in a bowl and placing the bowl on the food tray of a baby's high chair. Camera back for a full shot of an adorable Asian toddler looking totally puzzled over how to eat Jell-O with chopsticks. Not a politically correct commercial, and it would get no air time today, but it was cute and adorable and heartwarming. But I wouldn't call it a "recipe."

                                                                                                                  In the 50s and 60s, I lived in California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Nevada. All three markets had NBC, ABC, CBS, at least one indie station, and PBS as soon as it was born. TV markets make money, even PBS markets. Well, sort of. Never lived in Podunk, Iowa, or Dead Buffalo, Nebraska, so don't know if they only had one network affiliate, but most of the country was pretty well hooked up for the whole spectrum.

                                                                                                                  The food commercials I recall weren't trying to get anyone to buy products to create something with, they were nearly all pitching "heat and eat" products, or Wonder Bread, or Fallstaff Beer.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                    You're talking major media markets, not most of America. ABC didn't get a foothold until the mid-60s and in some markets got stuck on the UHF dial.
                                                                                                                    Mutual never got into TV and is still only radio.
                                                                                                                    We had one of the first TV stations in the US in New Orleans (c1947/48) but I recognized that it wasn't common around the country. It was quite a few years before WDSU/NBC had competition from a CBS affiliate, WWL, which signed on in 1957. You may remember that one if you lived on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.

                                                                                                                    Kraft Television Theatre was actually started as a vehicle to sell Kraft food products.
                                                                                                                    Yeah, things like that Jello commercial that stuck in your mind showed housewives how to use new convenience foods that were then being introduced into store.

                                                                                                                    In the early days of TV, there was a lot of live local programming and many a local personalities did on-air cooking and food segments. They were largely regional food and they shared local recipes.
                                                                                                                    They had a lot of time to fill.
                                                                                                                    Podunk and Dead Buffalo weren't bad places to live then or now.
                                                                                                                    More people lived there than in the big cities where you lived.

                                                                                                                    Memory is a faulty thing. Check the records. Most cities didn't have all three networks until later than you might think and they came even later to small town and rural America.
                                                                                                                    Even today, you see some pretty substantial satellite dishes out in the countryside, off the beaten track, where cable isn't available.
                                                                                                                    Once TV did take hold, it took off like a rocket and then there was cable.
                                                                                                                    The rest is history but we forget the slow start.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                      You're assuming that your regional experience and/or knowledge was national. It was not. Nor was mine. But while Mutual Broadcasting System may never have made it as a NATIONAL TV network, it was an absolutely viable and functioning regional television entity on the west coast. It was a blockbuster in Los Angeles' and outlying areas (including San Diego) daytime television share through it's TV version of the old and incredibly popular radio show, "Queen for a Day." But I may have been confusing Dumont Televisions' national presence with that of Mutual. Sorry.

                                                                                                                      Just to clarify, I never said Podunk of Dead Buffalo were bad places to live. Just that they were rural and not a lucrative television market. Those are not the same things. But such places were certainly well recognized in national broadcasting circles, especially radio, and the TV powers-that-were were working hard to come up with viable and affordable ways to reach Podunk and DB. However, while more Americans may have lived in rural regions of the country than in "big cities," it is absolutely not true that they all lived in Podunk and Dead Buffalo! '-)

                                                                                                                      But my point is that not all TV markets across the country were broadcasting cooking shows at the extreme that you talk about. I don't remember any such shows on TV while I lived in Biloxi. And the first cooking show I remember watching was Julia. I didn't know her from Adam, but I watched initially to see whether she was "doing it right." I had recently returned from living in Turkey, where I underwent nearly four years of six days a week OJT with my chef housekeeper who had come into private service with me to escape he regimentation of twenty years of elite restaurant cooking. So for all intents and purposes, I was a well trained "chef" with no interest in the regimentation of the restaurant world, and ended up being cheered and relieved at Julia's knowledge. She knew how to bard and lard and could tell a mandoline from a chinoise. And she was fun!

                                                                                                                      The first "new convenience food" I recall from early television is Swenson's TV dinner. It came in small aluminum trays with an aluminum foil cover on them that were heated in a standard oven because microwave ovens were huge and cost a bloody fortune. Other than that, the food commercials were selling stuff that was pretty much all "same old same old." Jell-O had been around for fifty or more years and molded gelatin extravaganzas for far longer than that. New Jell-O FLAVORS did come along in the '50s simply because Jell-O "salads" were so popular. I remember tomato flavor Jell-O that is no longer available today. I think it was somewhere along about then that Jell-O (or was it Royal?) also introduced "instant" pudding that was an instant hit too. Television introduced very little in the way of "new" foods. Only new ways to advertise the old ones.

                                                                                                                      It always amazes me when anyone thinks there was so much innovation and development of "new" foods that were unknown before such and such a product. The thing that drove the success of "new" food products was that without exception (including TV dinners) new FOODS were never introduced, only more convenient and time saving ways to make very old and long familiar favorites. And THAT is what drove the success train along the tracks to success. Chicken dinner ready to eat in half an hour or less without ever dirtying a frying pan, peeling a potato, or opening a can of corn? Unheard of, but the foods were not new. Only newer quicker ways of preparing them. Except for Jell-O. You still had to boil water, mix, and refrigerate until set. Unless you were using agar agar, which sets at room temperature.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                        Sorry, I think we're talking about different things here.
                                                                                                                        It's not that Podunk wasn't potentially lucrative, but in the early days of TV, there weren't many stations and their signal strength didn't carry to smaller markets. As TV gained popularity, more licenses were granted by the FCC, and the costs came down, more markets were served and its reach expanded. Then cable and satellite dishes made it available in increasingly smaller markets.
                                                                                                                        I can't get Baltimore stations on sets I have in Washington that aren't hooked up to my cable service and that's less than 50 miles away.
                                                                                                                        Even my cable carrier doesn't provide them.
                                                                                                                        Podunk, MD, wouldn't have had TV without greater signal strength, satellite receivers, or cable.
                                                                                                                        WDSU had signal repeaters for the Mississippi Gulf Coast but not for Baton Rouge which got its own station, WBRZ, in 1955.
                                                                                                                        Depending on your location on the River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, you got one signal or the other - usually badly.
                                                                                                                        Public TV in New Orleans didn't affiliate with PBS until 1970 although it had been on the air since the late 50s so that's why you may not have seen Julia.
                                                                                                                        It did however become cooking show central with Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson syndicating their shows from WYES.

                                                                                                                        There weren't food "shows" in those early days but there were "segments" in the live programming much like the ones offered on the Today Show or Good Morning America.
                                                                                                                        The local stations had a lot of time to fill and they had all sorts of things, much like public access channels on cable.
                                                                                                                        Some of this lasted pretty well into the 70s in smaller markets and you still see it today in some markets that can afford it and have local chefs willing to do the segments.
                                                                                                                        My husband was a broadcast journalist and worked at stations large and small from Alaska to California, the Mid-West to the Deep South and the East. He didn't do cooking, thank God, because he can't cook. He eats.

                                                                                                                        The commercials that companies like Kraft did were recipe spots showing how to use one of their products to make something. They were trying to juice sales of that item. This is where those things come from like California Dip with Lipton Onion Soup Mix or Hellman's Mayo Cake.
                                                                                                                        Philadelphia Cream Cheese was a biggie.
                                                                                                                        Cream Cheese icing was a product of TV.
                                                                                                                        The commercials showed ways to use products in non-traditional ways that expanded the sales beyond the normal market for them.
                                                                                                                        Using a cup of mayo or 8 oz of cream cheese rather than one tablespoon = increased sales.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                          Maybe I just ignored such spots on TV. My mother chased the rainbows of "new and different" foods like the Irish born leprechaun she was! Ever heard of a Ritz cracker "apple pie?" She made them biweekly, quite proud of the deception, until she served me a piece on a visit home. She was ALWAYS dieting. So I just looked at her and asked her where she got the idea that a whole box full of Ritz crackers was lower calorie than a few apples? She never baked another.

                                                                                                                          And don't talk to me about mayonnaise cakes! My mother's was ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS dark, rich and choclatey. Using her identical recipe, I somehow can only manage to produce the highest commercial grade of vulcanized rubber! I won't wast any more mayonnaise on that!

                                                                                                                          As for TV reception, California -- particularly southern California -- was an interesting anomaly when it comes to TV signals. We lived south of San Diego, in a community called Otay. Our house was on top of a hill and about a half dozen "stone-throws" from the ocean. We got all of the LA stations any day of the week with a standard rooftop antenna. On good days we also got Santa Barbara and occasionally even KGO from San Francisco. Had to do with the curvature of the coast line, weather conditions, fog/clouds or none, and signal bounce from the sky.

                                                                                                                          And THANK YOU for the gender clue...!!! My radar doesn't always work well. Nice to have you out of the fog! '-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                            Look at these "great recipe ideas" from Kraft!!! Only TWENTY years ago.
                                                                                                                            Can you believe it???
                                                                                                                            God forbid that Kraft would allow us to celebrate Christmas without some new recipes, huh?
                                                                                                                            Those new recipes were right there on YOUR television and printed in YOUR TV Guide magazine.
                                                                                                                            There are more than a few of these recipes that have become family traditions in America.
                                                                                                                            Just like Toll House Cookies and some other recipes that started out on the backs of food product packaging.
                                                                                                                            Yes, I remember Mock Apple Pie. A friend of Mama's made it all the time and everyone marveled that it tasted "just like apples." Yuck! Not to me. But it was funny.

                                                                                                                            Hard to believe that those Kraft ads are from only two decades ago until you think that they're not THAT different from some of the stuff on the Food Network, except with different production values and they're NOT commercials. Ouch!

                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                              You know, the more I think about it maybe I'm unaware of those commercials because I use them to get a fresh cup of coffee or a trip to the bathroom. I can't say any of them would inspire me to go shopping and recreate them. Because of food allergies, I rarely make anything I don't make from scratch. I do use Hellmann's mayonnaise. Never Kraft or Miracle Whip. And I make all of my salad dressings from scratch.

                                                                                                                              Most of those Kraft ccommercials are really scary! Make a salad dressing that has "half the calories" as a "regular" dressing for a "delicious spinach salad," then drown it under twice as much dressing as anyone in their right mind would ever use! So where's the caloric saving?

                                                                                                                              And the recipe for choclate mousse made with marshmallows? Saw a similar recipe on the Food Network recently and thought, are they out of their minds? I pretty much use Julia Child's choc mousse recipe from MTAOFC, that uses eggs...Don't have any idea what the caloric count is for a couple of cups of marshmallows, but my guess is it's more than the calorie count for four eggs, and the eggs don't have ANY HFCs! '-)

                                                                                                                              And my cardiologist says margarine, ANY margarine, is a no no! I use unsalted grass fed butter, olive oil and peanut oil as fats. Nothing else. Well, some occasional beef fat, but that's from grass fed beef...

                                                                                                                              Maybe my food allergies have turned me into a real food curmudgeon, but I find that making things from scratch is almost always as quick or quicker than these "convenience" recipes and foods, and they also taste better.

                                                                                                                              I've told the tale here before, but way back in the early '60s I stopped to shop for dinner on my way home from work. Don't remember what I picked up as a meat dish, maybe pork chops, but on the convenience food shelves I spotted a pack of Betty Crocker Instant Potatoes au Gratin. Grabbed them and rushed home happily thinking what a great dinner we would have. Then I read the directions: "Soak dehydrated potatoes for 40 minutes to an hour in warm water." I put them in the trash and made potatoes au gratin from scratch in about a half an hour.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                Yes, dear Caroline, those commercials are frightening, aren't they? And only twenty years ago. I couldn't find the older ones from the 50s and 60s. They were actually closer to "scratch" cooking if I recall.
                                                                                                                                Think of these as a precursor to some of the stuff on the Food Network today.
                                                                                                                                Most cooks today have never made their own mayo - it comes from a jar. Cream cheese frosting is the standard because it's idiot-proof. Salad dressings double as marinades and they come from the store, never home-made.

                                                                                                                                Julia Child wasn't in a single Kraft commercial. Today's Food Network stars make food commercials all the time.
                                                                                                                                Sic transit gloria mundi.

                                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                  Hellmann's mayo dates back to a 1905 New York deli, and Duke's back to 1917.

                                                                                                                                  Was homemade mayo ever a common item in American homes?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    It's hard to tell. We take commercial mayo for granted now.
                                                                                                                                    The 1931 Joy of Cooking that I have (updated in 1946) treats it as something that a cook made, although there is a note that might have been added in the update, saying that "A good grade of commercial mayonnaise may be used" for at least one of the recipes.
                                                                                                                                    Very few of the salad recipes in that cookbook called for it and when they did, they gave the choice of mayo, boiled dressing, or something else.
                                                                                                                                    Mayo might not have been nearly so common as it is now.
                                                                                                                                    Could it have been due to less refrigeration in many parts of the country or the cost of commercial mayo?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                      What would have been the salad oil of choice in those days? No doubt olive oil in Italian communities, and among families that could afford a hired cook.

                                                                                                                                      I recall that a good number of the recipes in my mom's file were clippings from magazine adds for Wesson Oil (from the 50s, 60s). I think she grew up on lard and butter, and switch to oil because of supposed health benefits. She even preferred the oil based biscuits and pie crust.

                                                                                                                                      Out of curiosity I looked up Wesson Oil. Their site has some old TV commercials, and some print ad dating back to 1921. The 1925 has recipes for mayo and Thousand Island

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        Olives grow in California but probably in the rest of the US, olive oil was an expensive import. Especially after the Smoot Hawley trade tariffs in the early 1930s and thereafter. The Depression and the War probably made any imports prohibitive. Production was likely devasted in war-torn Europe. Remember butter was rationed and most people used oleo. A lot of old recipes were developed using Crisco, oleo, lard, etc. They were also shelf-stable. I remember when butter fell out of favor because of health concerns. Dark days.

                                                                                                                                        Domestic help wasn't that rare in many sections of the US. Not a dedicated cook but someone who came in even one day a week. It was fairly common in middle class families. People needed jobs and many opportunites were still closed to them, a lot of women were working outside the home for the first time.

                                                                                                                                        Vegetable oils probably started to take over when society became more urbanized. The technology was there. It was convenient and they sure weren't butchering hogs any longer in the cities like they had done when they lived in rural areas.
                                                                                                                                        My old Joy of Cooking used vegetable oil for the recipes so I imagine it had pretty well become established by the 30s. I don't cook from that book very often but what a great reference book it is!!! It's really useful for deconstructing recipes.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                          Wesson Oil has been around since 1900 when David Wesson developed a method for making cotton seed oil flavorless. There is nothing wrong with cotton seed oil, per se, but today I won't buy anything that contains cottonseed oil because all cotton is grown as a non-food crops and extremely toxic pesticides are used. At least they were up until three and a half years ago when I moved away from El Paso, an important cotton growing area of the U.S.

                                                                                                                                          One of the interesting things that happens in both history and in archaeology is that there are things in the daily livers of people that are so taken for granted that no one bothers mentioning them or writing about them. I suspect that mayonnaise is one of those things. I remember aunts, family friends, church members all taking the making of mayonnaise in stride. A whisk, a bowl, an egg, a little dried mustard, some lemon juice or vinegar, and some Wesson Oil, and you had mayonnaise in no time at all. It was like brushing your teeth. You didn't talk about it, you just did it.

                                                                                                                                          Boiled dressing was also a common do-it-yourself dressing. Miracle Whip is basically a boiled dressing. It took a little more time to make than mayonnaise because it had to be boiled until thick, and then was commonly thinned a bit with whipped cream or whipped canned milk. I was never a great fan of boiled dressing or Miracle Whip.

                                                                                                                                          In the early 20th century butter was often used in sandwiches and spreads in much the same way as we use mayonnaise today. I have old pre WWII recipe books that call for creaming cheese with butter to make a spread for cocktail canapes.

                                                                                                                                          But mayonnaise and boiled dressing were also used. My mother's old pre-WWII "Household Searchlight Recipe Book" gives a sandwich recipe that says, "Combine ground salted peanuts and finely chopped uncooked carrots in equal portions. Moisten with boiled salad dressing to a spreading consistency. Use as a filling between slices of whole wheat or white bread."

                                                                                                                                          In my "Housekeeping in Old Virginia" cookbook that was copyrighted in 1879, many recipes for salads -- turkey, terrapin, chicken, fish, etc. -- give directions for turning boiled egg yolks or whole hard boiled eggs into a "powder" and combining with a teacup of fresh melted butter or olive oil, then adding vinegar to taste and mixing with the chicken or turkey or turtle or whatever.

                                                                                                                                          It was also taken very much for granted that readers of this cookbook were fully familiar with mayonnaise and making an emulsion. In the recipe for potato salad it says to steam the potatoes until mealy, peel and slice, then "prepare a dressing of egg, onion, mustard, oil, pepper, salt and vinegar, and pour over them." No proportions are given for the ingredients, nor is the word "moyonnaise" mentioned, but these are certainly the ingredients for a mayonnaise, so much was taken for granted.

                                                                                                                                          Oh, and as a slight digression, there was a recent discussion of weevils in wheat and presumably flour. This 1879 cookbook says to prevent them, put your wheat (flour?) in an air tight barrel (or other container), then smooth and cover the top of the wheat/flour with a layer of salt, cover with a cloth tied tightly to cover. Haven't tried it myself though. I just stick my flour in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                          In my 1869 (English) edition of Mrs. Beetons Book of Household Management, she gives a recipe for a cheese spread she says is good for using cheese that has become hard. She begins by advising the cheese be "pounded" into a powder (now, THAT's some very hard cheese!) then add three ounces of butter per pound of pounded cheese, cream until smooth, and for added flavor she recommends things like a little added mustard or curry powder.

                                                                                                                                          Olive oil was not used as much as we might think because of its strong flavor. Once Wesson figured out how to make cottonseed oil flavorless, the vegetable oil took a front seat. Prior to that, butter (drawn or not) was the common "oil" for making mayonnaise, which in effect, made it more of a Hollandaise sauce than a mayonnaise. Damn the cholesterol, full speed ahead!

                                                                                                                                          Interestingly, any margarine during and prior to World War II was mandated by law to be sold uncolored. But it did come with a little packet of powdered coloring to be mixed in with the white margarine to simulate butter. During World War II, some company -- I forget which, but maybe Kraft or Parkay, though I really have no idea -- came out with pound packages of margarine in a plastic bag that had a gel cap of color inside the plastic. It was considered a great convenience because all you had to do was pinch the gel cap to rupture it, then squeeze the package of margarine until the color was uniform, then clip open an end and dispense it into a butter bowl. No need for dirtying the beaters and bowl of the Mixmaster! As a kid, I loved mixing it until one day, I was lounging on my back on a leather sofa when the bag ruptured squirting margarine all over me and leaving permanent oil stains in the leather. Boy, was I in trouble!

                                                                                                                                          Anyway, the point is that the foods of those bygone days were not all that different from what we eat today, it's just that much of the prep and mixing and peeling and cooking is done before we get it home. ;Unless we're really into cooking! '-)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                            My Gawd, my Dear....you are such a wealth of knowledge! As I follow your posts on this thread and elsewhere, I am amazed at how much I am learning about the history of food. I hope you are at least capturing your posts on here to pass on to a future generation in your family, if not writing it all down for them somewhere.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                              Thank you, but my kids grew up with it and it bores them to tears! '-)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                Of course they do - as it does every generation - until it is too late! Fortunately I had an aunt who wrote down a lot of family history at the request of my brother. It was copied and spiral bound by my brother and became a Christmas present to all family members. She had also written a "list of Rememberances" that we found after her death and did the same thing. She and my uncle had even done a children's story that they ilustrated themselves. Alas, I was not even born then (most of my siblings and cousins are much older). My sister still has her copy!

                                                                                                                                                My Great-grandmother wrote a history of Marlboro MA for its tri-centennial. Since she got to write it, she also included a lot of family history. Thanks to searches in used bookstores, most of the family now has a copy of that as well. (The fascinating thing is that it was written about 1925, it has lots of old pictures of Marlboro and a lot of the "distinguished town members" at that time. Damned ,if it doesn't turn out that my great, great ,etc.
                                                                                                                                                uncle is a dead-ringer for my brother!).

                                                                                                                                                So yes, they are bored now........but as we all know, as we get older, we gain in wisdom "When I was 18, I couldn't believe how stupid my grandfather was - by the time I reached 30, I was amazed at how much he had learned!" - Mark Twain( i believe)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                  I like the thought. It's the reality that's out of focus. My kids are now both officially in their forties and there is no indication of rising interest from either of them. Oh well. Somebody's gotta be the last buffalo... '-)

                                                                                                                                                  Or if I do live long enough to buy myself that promised "next" pack of Turkish oval cigarettes for my 90th birthday, my grandson will then be twenty and maybe he will share some of my interest.... Ya never know!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, it may just be the grandkids who first ask the questions....do it for them..and yourself!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                  Caroline, record it anyways. While my mother was alive, we talked and talked, and I listened. She died when I was 24, and to this day (I'm now 42), I still wish I'd gotten the recorder out during her last months and made her tell me stuff in her own voice for posterity. Memory only serves you so well. I would LOVE to have the written record you are creating here, of my mom's memories.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                            As always jfood enjoys the walk down memory lanes that you provide.

                                                                                                                            Just a point of clarrification.

                                                                                                                            Swenson's was an ice cream shop jfood believes was started in SF and branched out in the 70's to the east. Mrs Swanson was responsible for feeding jfood every night as a youth. And let's not forget those special instructions she placed on certain packages to peel back areas to give them crispness (i.e. fried chicken and apple brown betty) and the hard top on the soup.

                                                                                                                            Jfood also thinks My-T-Fine was the first pudding that he remembers and Royal had some weird concoction and name. Then Jello picked up the stick and came up with the "instant" variety.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                              We always did the Royal pudding over My-T-Fine...but again, as like jfood's house, until Jello came along.

                                                                                                                              (And I also loved the fried chicken, mashed potatoes and Apple Brown Betty Swanson's TV-dinner best growing up!)

                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                You're absolutely right, Jay! It was SWANSON's that inspired my mother to buy all those rickety damned TV dinner trays that promoted eating in front of the TV! SWENSON'S is where I used to take my two kids and one friend each when they brought home great report cars. They ordered an "Earthquake," and each child got to choose two flavors of ice cream and two flavors of toppings. The only rule was no bubble gum ice cream! It had indelible colors that inevitably ended up everywhere but in the kids' mouths. Swenson's also had great great coffee I would enjoy black while watching horrendous feeding orgy.

                                                                                                              2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                1. I never said that Alton Brown is God. That's reserved for Eric Clapton. ;-)
                                                                                                                2. I never said he was the best thing since Julia Child either.

                                                                                                                My reply to ferret was strictly in reply to your comment saying that Alton Brown knows nothing about food. To call him a hack *just* because he aimed for a television show is, IMO, belittling him and the knowledge he does possess and pass along.

                                                                                                                No one knows everything - including the revered Julia Child. Just because his career path doesn't jive with what you believe it should be to teach the masses about certain scientific "whys and wherefors" about food doesn't make him any less a teacher. Just a different one.

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  I look forward to meeting all the people who were inspired to cook and seek great food by Alton, as I have met so many that were so inspired by Julia.

                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                    But you're still not responding to my point - AB *does* know about food. Just in a different way. If he interests someone in how to cook "X" because of a certain episode of Good Eats, good for him...he got someone interested in food.

                                                                                                                    Again - he's a teacher. Just a different kind. Not everyone has to COOK to be a teacher as Julia Child was.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      Your local gas station attendant can tell you something about cars - perhaps he's a graduate of the vo-tec. But the Ferrari mechanic that's been doing what he does for years because of his passion for cars would be a much better source for information. We have wiki today - a great equalizer of information, but there is still such a thing as differentiating the quality of the information.

                                                                                                                      Nothing - nothing at all, that I have ever heard come out of AB's mouth isn't in McGee's or Corriher's books in much greater detail. Julia may have learned from Cordon Bleu, but through experimentation and working on her own reference cookbook, she became a primary information source on her own right.

                                                                                                                      AB is a good teacher because? He uses foam props? On Good Eats, he doesn't get things outright wrong (from what I've seen) - his staff has done their work, they have good sources in the books I've mentioned, and they've written the script well. But he gets a lot either wrong or he ignores things he shouldn't as MC of ICA. That's a sure sign that he really doesn't know that much. He particularly gets Asian foods wrong - says idiotic things about them or just doesn't catch the importance of a particular technique or process.

                                                                                                                      Great information about food today is written by Ruhlman, Steingarten, Trillin, etc., etc. To put Alton Brown into the same class of information provider as Julia or these true experts is just silly. He's an entertainer, and regardless of what other folks think of Julia's shows, they provided a much better quality of information than any entertainment show - and the only props she used was a bunch of different sized chickens!

                                                                                                                      My off the cuff remark about being inspired by people was meant to be taken seriously. If you honestly get what you consider to be good information from Alton - if he inspries you - please take the time to read McGee. It will open your mind to what Alton might have been doing if he were really a teacher.

                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                        "- please take the time to read McGee. It will open your mind to what Alton might have been doing if he were really a teacher."

                                                                                                                        Please don't assume that just because people think AB is a good cooking teacher, that they aren't also acquainted with authors like McGee and Corriher (or Tsuji).

                                                                                                                        I think we need a separate thread in which people can elaborate on the things that AB has gotten wrong as MC on ICA. If we can be specific, then we all have a chance of learning something from each other. This thread is too much like a polite shouting match.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          When I watch a Morimoto ICA, I'm constantly pointing to and yelling at the screen - what Alton ignores or gets wrong is just unbelievable. He had one of the highest percentage wins on IC, but has the lowest (barely 50/50) on ICA. Of course, he's still cooking to the Japanese palate - but that's the point - a true educator would be helping Morimoto educate the American palate to understand the Japanese, not ignoring it.

                                                                                                                          He does the same with other (guest) cooks and their ethnic fare. Even with the depths of Batali's Italian or Cora's Greek, Alton shows a lot of gaps. Now that's ok. He usually knows enough to ask questions - and that's alI I would expect of anybody doing that job. But he doesn't even do that for Morimoto.

                                                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                          To put Alton Brown into the same class of information provider as Julia or these true experts is just silly.
                                                                                                                          I've *never* said that Alton Brown is in the same class as Julia. There is only one Julia. I am, however, saying that he *can* teach *some* people about foods and how to cook things new to them.

                                                                                                                          You, obviously not. Your expertise is far greater than to have any need for Alton Brown. I'm just saying there *is* a place for him - much as you may not like him.

                                                                                                                          And to end this conversation - I don't watch any Food Network shows. Haven't for years except for a show here and there (I did watch the first season of Anne Burrell's show). However, if I am scrolling through with the remote and I see something of interest, I'll watch. Otherwise, it's not the be-alland end-all of food shows for me either.

                                                                                                                          But yet again - in this day and age where people buy their dinners at fast food joints or convenience stores, there *is* a place for Alton Brown.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            It isn't that I know everything that Alton is going to talk about. I don't. But neither does he. We have a quickly accessible, easy to read and understand reference book, full of work done by someone else. There's nothing you can get from Alton that doesn't exist in this book. He's not a primary source of information, he's not even a good interpreter, other than knowing how to produce a TV show. That makes him an entertainer, not a teacher.

                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                              There are probably more people who wouldn't go out and buy the reference books you have, but they'd watch his show on TFN. Different era, different mode of getting information.

                                                                                                                          2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                            Aren't both shows really Cooking Something 101 but for different audiences in different media environments?
                                                                                                                            In Julia's era, people were more likely to watch a half-hour show with less razzamatazz and then they still would consult her cookbook before undertaking the dish that she cooked. They didn't have the tools of videos, TiVo, or the internet to download the recipes.
                                                                                                                            Alton Brown's shows are full of visual games geared to people who get their information from fast-paced sources like YouTube, FaceBook, and MTV. They might be bored with a lecture format like Julia's. Some of the younger viewers grew up with Sesame Street with information in two minute segments. They're still going to resort to his website for the recipe and if they want more information? Yep, they'll hit McGee or even Julia.

                                                                                                                            I watched Alton's show on pickles
                                                                                                                            I'm not going to make pickles. I may not ever want to know more about the process. He may not have been entirely accurate but he was close enough (I assume) that I got the point about the process.
                                                                                                                            I was entertained for 1/2 hour and I learned something that I would not have known and I probably never would have pulled out my copies of McGee or Corriher to read about pickles.

                                                                                                                            So maybe modern media has sent things to hell in a handbasket or maybe not.
                                                                                                                            Is this Alton's "fault"? Or is it just the broadening of the market?
                                                                                                                            For those of us who want more, there are more sources than ever.
                                                                                                                            Alton Brown is another option. Why trash him?

                                                                                                                        3. re: applehome

                                                                                                                          While I would never argue that Alton Brown is Julia Child's equal, Mr. Brown's show was the one that actually started me, my niece, then nephew, cooking. 'Good Eats' was our 'gateway drug' and, because of the show, we now seek out and prepare different foods every night, shop at stores other than just the supermarket, etc.

                                                                                                                          As others have written I don't think that there is (or can be) an equivalent of Julia Child. The closest (for me) would be Jacques Pepin, because of his low-key, but incredibly knowledgeable, presentations in both television and books (I just finished re-reading his 'Complete Techniques'), as well as his involvement with PBS. Behind him would be Mario Batali and Rick Stein. But what do I know - I'm new to all this (playing catch up) and am currently really enjoying reruns of Graham Kerr's 'Galloping Gourmet' - is it wrong that I really like the show when a recipe doesn't work - and Keith Floyd.

                                                                                                                          1. re: blackoak

                                                                                                                            Galloping Gourmet is a guilty pleasure of mine too. I haven't seen the original series in eons.... When I was a kid I remember the housewives swooning over the dashing and droll Graham. His food was very rich...but he was a hoot.

                                                                                                                            Entertaining and fun. Nothing wrong with that.

                                                                                                                            1. re: blackoak

                                                                                                                              While Jacques is very knowledgeable, he does have some gaps. On a recent CreateTV episode he used a pressure cooker. It was clear that when he talked about the change in boiling point due to altitude, and the temperature inside a pressure cooker, that he was unsure about the numbers. For example he said the PC temperature was 300 degrees, where as I've seen numbers more like 250 (at 15psi at sealevel).

                                                                                                                              I mention this, not because I don't respect his knowledge, but to counter the claims that Alton is 'just an actor' because he exhibits knowledge gaps on Iron Chef America.

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                I think you raise a good point. Julia had her shows where she brought in other chefs and learned from them. She never held herself out as an expert in everything. She presented cooking as something where there is always something new to learn. An old clip I love is a very young Emeril coming on to Julia's show to show her how to do a true New Orleans crawfish boil. She loved it! She had to ask Emeril questions about it. In that sense, both Pepin and Brown are like Julia--they are always learning.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                                                                  Didn't Julia get her start on TV as a guest on some talk or variety show?

                                                                                                                              2. re: blackoak

                                                                                                                                Pick up a copy of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of The Kitchen by Harold McGee. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

                                                                                                                    2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                      Julia's peculiar accent is not a New England acent and even New Englanders think it sounds funny.

                                                                                                                      1. re: taos

                                                                                                                        actually, it's more like a "received" New England accent by way of upper class Pasadena. the kinds of folks who pronounce Los Angeles "Los Ang-elees"

                                                                                                                        1. re: FED

                                                                                                                          I think she had a bit of a speech impediment or perhaps a sinus problem, actually. I've lived in New England for nearly over decades and have never heard anyone except Julia sound like that. I've also spent a fair amount of time in Pasadena and they don't talk like that there either.

                                                                                                                2. on further review, as they say in the NFL, I'll make a probably controversial nomination for "our julia" -- Thomas Keller. not because of his cookbooks or his television show (which he doesn't have), but because he broke the existing paradigm and excited a new generation to be better than it had been.

                                                                                                                  1. The way I see Julia Childs is she redefined what cooking was during her era... away from the conveniences of the processed foods.

                                                                                                                    With that in mind, I would put Martha Stewart in this category of redefining the status quo. Martha Stewart redefined cooking beyond the kitchen... She introduced the entertainment and style aspects into cooking. Also, Martha Stewart brought in a new group of interested cooks beyond the stodgy PBS crowd. Stewart brought in the Oprah crowd.

                                                                                                                    However, the two were different in their approaches. Julia Childs developing her "brand" through PBS in a modest way while Martha Stewart was out aggressively building an empire and with a lot of self-promoting.

                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                      I think that's a huge difference between a Julia Child and a Martha Stewart. Julia didn't shill for any products. Martha is all about the brand.

                                                                                                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                        It's hard to compare their approaches in terms of "brand" as the differences in time, culture and media are so dramatic. The only place to do what Julia did at the time was PBS. Once she was on, she had created her own genre.

                                                                                                                        Martha Stewart had to compete from the outset with other people trying to do similar sorts of things and with many more television stations and such. I'm not arguing they're equivalent, but it's an entirely different landscape in terms of sponsorship and "shilling."

                                                                                                                        I do think the absence of something else that Child was working on/promoting created a situation in which she had more gravitas and more trust and that that was a key in her popularity and effectiveness.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                          I think the difference in Martha Stewart and Julia Child is that Martha Stewart wants very much to be all encompassing. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine Julia Child sheets and pillow cases!

                                                                                                                          Not that there's anything wrong with that.... '-)

                                                                                                                        2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                          Martha turns me off on how she is constantly interrupting and "adding" to what guest chefs are saying and giving them tips. When I watch Baking with Julia, I just don't get that feeling that Julia makes her guests feel like she knows more than they, whether she does or does not. She respects their professionalism and let's them be the "star" of the episode.

                                                                                                                          1. re: itryalot

                                                                                                                            I thought the same thing about Baking with Julia. She asks basic questions that she obviously would know the answer to, for the home cooks out there who might not and she makes it sound like she genuinely wants to know. There's no ego, as I see with Martha, just helping others learn. There's a graciousness that she has that few attain.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              As with so many things that appear effortless, like a duck gliding across a river, there's a whole lot going on underneath! She was a master.

                                                                                                                      2. Nigella Lawson has my vote. She has a way about her that is comforting, and her food never looks too complicated.

                                                                                                                        1. Not a female, obviously, but I think Jamie Oliver's had a huge effect around the world in getting people to cook by showing that cooking tasty food doesn't have to be complicated. Plus, he's used his fame to do things like his Fifteen foundation to train underprivileged kids to be come cooks and the school dinners program to introduce healthier food into schools.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: gyc

                                                                                                                            Yes, Jamie. Although, I still feel Mario is more educational when you watch him. But Jamie has done so much!

                                                                                                                          2. We've been fortunate in the UK inthat the celebrity TV chef is a fairly recent thing for us.

                                                                                                                            Two female TV cooks (not chefs) stand out over the years. Delia Smith has taught a generation to cook to the extent that to "do a Delia" now appears in our dictionaries as a phrase. Incredibly influential for 30 years. The other, IMO, would be Sophie Grigson. I suppose Nigella Lawson limps along there in third place for younger folk, but whilst I'll "do a Delia" at least once a week and cook from one of Grigson's books a couple of times a month, I can't recall when I last actually cooked from a Nigella book. That said, I've never cooked anything from the three Rachel Ray books I brought back from our last trip to America some 16 months back.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                              Before Sophie Grigson, there was her mother, Jane Grigson. And fwiw, very few Americans have even the foggiest notion who Delia Smith is. That is not to diminish her influence in her sphere, at all.

                                                                                                                              Interesting tho, that maybe 20 years ago, in a conversation with a group of her peers, Julia was asked who she thought might "be the next Julia," or take over the mantle as "America's Cooking Teacher," and she unhesitatingly replied Anne Willan.

                                                                                                                              Anne is the founder and owner of La Varenne Cooking School, and the author of a large number of excellent cookbooks. Tho she is well known in culinary circles, I daresay that few of the readers of this thread, if they know who she is at all, would put her in the same category with Julia!

                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                I've had her LaVarenne Pratique for a couple of decades now (the preface is dated exactly 20 yrs ago). While it is not something I consult regularly anymore, it is still one of the best instructional cook books that I own. It does not have a lot of recipes, but several have been memorable, such as rosemary and lemon sorbet.

                                                                                                                                Part of the difference is that people know about Julia even if they never learned anything about cooking from her.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                I love her cookbooks and think she is also quite knowledgeable. (SP?)

                                                                                                                              3. Just to state jfood's position, there was and is only one Julia Child. She was the ground breaker, the leader, the teacher, the chef, the writer, the perfectionist, the normalcy, the high end, the normal kitchen, and the longevity. She was IT.

                                                                                                                                Many names put on this board can go into the great category, jfood would like to add James Beard to that list, but none are in JC's league. Let's place her on the A+ list and move on.

                                                                                                                                Jfood would have many on the A list and would include, amongst others...

                                                                                                                                - Pepin
                                                                                                                                - Lidia
                                                                                                                                - Hazan
                                                                                                                                - Keller
                                                                                                                                - Aschatz
                                                                                                                                - Batali
                                                                                                                                - Ferran Adrià
                                                                                                                                - Joel Robuchon
                                                                                                                                - Others

                                                                                                                                But all of these are great chefs, they do not have the complete Julia pacjage.

                                                                                                                                1. There is no one.

                                                                                                                                  What made Julia important and significant is that she was a pioneer in bringing French cooking to the average person and in using the medium of television to teach cooking. It went far beyond her being a famous female cook or a television personality.

                                                                                                                                  You can't replicate a pioneer.

                                                                                                                                  By the way, it's "Child" not "Childs."

                                                                                                                                    1. Free video of Julia with others on "Cooking With Master Chefs":

                                                                                                                                      Some she only introduces, but all good/fun to watch.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                        I cannot thank you enough for the PBS link. I will be spending a few hours there.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: billieboy

                                                                                                                                          You're very welcome. It's one of those things that makes you (or me at least) stop and think "wow, the internet is really cool." Her appreciation of the food and the talent and knowledge of the chefs really comes through. I enjoy them all quite a bit.

                                                                                                                                      2. Besides all that.......what other foodie ever worked for the CIA?......or was it the OSS back then?

                                                                                                                                        Just kidding......Dan Akroyd, eat your heart out!

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                          Tony Bourdain visited the the spy museum in Washington DC, and showed us a photo of Julia from her OSS days - lounging in an almost pinup pose on a bunk.

                                                                                                                                        2. jacques pepin gets my vote. he's getting a little old now and a tad slower but the mind is sharper than a chef's knife. he, above all others, reminds me of julia.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                            My 2 cents: the current historical-cultural environment does not favor the emergence of someone like Julia Child, who began as an obsessed enthusiast (or hobbyist) and stumbled her way to celebrity and financial success, only after many years of honing her interests and skills (that is, attaining true expertise). Why will we never see anyone like Julia Child? Well, in my opinion, due to the emergence of the so-called information age, shared knowledge is cheap (that is, readily accessible to all), and people fancy themselves as expert (or expert enough), without paying dues, and then they develop marketing schemes and/or branding for themselves, that is, if they have an attractive enough package (looks-personality-je ne se quois). So, the explosive marketing age could not/would not give rise to Julia Child or anything close to Julia Child... Perhaps we see an occasional "throw-back," but not the real McCoy (i.e., the real CHILD).
                                                                                                                                            And what a shame. But hey, it ain't the old days.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, me too (liking your pov). It's a good explanation of what I was feeling throughout the Alton discussion above. We all agree that there's no equivalent of Julia, and yet so many are happy to say that someone like Alton is an effective teacher for today's world, knowing full well that he's not done the same work, spent the same time, earned the same respect. It's a paradigm (shift) for the entire world of epistemology. Julia v. Alton might just as well be Heifetz v. Brittany - they're both musicians, after all. Let's just hope that the guy that's operating on your kid's heart valve didn't learn his craft from the world wide web.

                                                                                                                                            1. I sure hope the average child doesn't think of Sandra Lee as a chef!

                                                                                                                                              I would say that Julia Child is the Julia Child of today. I think she is still quite well known and respected.

                                                                                                                                              Given that Julia was not a chef, I think of her as someone who used books and tv to convey a love of cooking and food to the public at large. The people that do that today, or have done so recently, are Rachel Ray, Emeril, and Martha Stewart. Each has their own style, but each is a name well known in pop culture, not just to "foodies" (don't like that word), or people who are knowledgeable about food, restaurants, etc. Like Julia, each of the three makes their own recipes and has defined a style of cooking based on their own values in cooking. Julia emphasized French technique, fresh ingredients. Ray emphasizes speed, flexibility (I ignore her recipes when she uses prepared food--there is still plenty left). And etc.

                                                                                                                                              Alice Waters is not known in pop culture the way these three are. But I think she has had a huge influence on the chefs and overall food culture of today. I think it's a mistake to underestimate her influence.

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                                                                                You make a great point that Julia Child influenced home cooks AND professionals. None of the above come close to that.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cocktailhour

                                                                                                                                                  I will play the devil's advocate here. I think of each of the three names you mention as marketers and/or brands. Their standards of excellence have been secondary, in my opinion, to marketing considerations. I cannot say about RR or Emeril - because I have never purchased one of their cookbooks - but I do know that many have argued that Martha Stewart's recipes (from the beginning) were not well vetted; that is, experienced cooks/journalists (I believe it was Marian Burros of the NYT among others) tried to replicate the recipes and could never get them to come out. No doubt each of the three/four you mention have influenced American taste and expectations to a great extent. But so have all advertisers of just about any product we might think of. Influence in America, as I indicated in my earlier post, is cheap and not necessary related to real expertise. I suppose "popularizing" other people's original ideas has its place. I believe that is the hallmark of contemporary American culture. What is attractive, not what is substantive.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                                                                    I think you raise some valid points. I do think Ray and Lagasse have their own ideas. Again, I don't think they replace Child, but they are perhaps as influential in their own ways. Stewart has definitely influenced food/home making, etc. Her sphere is not food per, se like Child.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                                                                      This is old now, but I think you sell Emeril short. He may be a brand now, though he has reined the over-the-top personality in since leaving Food Network, but he began as a chef. And a very talented one who opened a few restaurants that still produce very good food. (Not all of his restaurants do, but by all accounts Emeril's and Delmonico's are still of high quality.) The brand did become more important than the food at some point, but it wasn't always that way and he still knows creole cooking like the back of his hand.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Saw this post and just thought I would mention that there is a new film due out in 2009 called Julie & Julia from the book by Julie Powell describing her adventure cooking the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Meryl Streep will play Julia and Amy Adams will play Julie Powell.


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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                                                      OMG! Why didn't I know about this movie. I can't wait to see it - what a cast!

                                                                                                                                                    2. There will never be another Julia Child, as a society we are more food aware than we have ever been before so our teachers have to be able to bring something new to the table... Great cooking is not about following recipes it about understanding food and the love of quality ingredients... I am always disappointed in the Celebrity chefs I see on TV they seem like they are going through the motions and not enjoying the moment, I know there are exceptions and I will watch and hopefully learn from them but generating that kernel of passion and the shear joy in food that was Julia's gift, and is going to be a hard if not impossible feat to duplicate

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: connaissance

                                                                                                                                                        connaissance - Is it something new they bring to the table? Or something gimmicky and/or superficially attractive?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: connaissance

                                                                                                                                                          I think that Mario has a huge joie de vivre thing going. He's not Julia, but no one every will be. He's clearly having fun and knows what he's doing, however. I always learn something from him.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: connaissance

                                                                                                                                                            As a society, we are NOT more aware of food than we have ever been. We may have more instantaneous and universal communication than we have ever had before, but we are certainly not more aware of food than "we" have ever been. In fact in my opinion and in my personal experience, food was much better fifty years ago than it is today. "Agribusiness" has changed the flavors of many foods in order to get them to market looking good at the great cost of flavor. There are NO tuna in the world today that have the flavor of tuna fifty years ago. Many of the foods that were plentiful and delicious are unavailable today because they have been overharvested. Well... Wait a minute. If this is what you mean when you say "more aware of food today," then yeah. I'm more aware. I'm more aware of what's missing. And regret than anyone under thirty or so will never know. Sad.

                                                                                                                                                            The great perpetual error of the human race is that each successive generation thinks that it is the best and the brightest, and all that was before them was inferior and dark. It just isn't true.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                              Good point, Caroline. Perhaps they meant more aware of the diversity of foods available (remember when the first Chinese place opened in your hometown? I can!)

                                                                                                                                                              I had to laugh about your tuna comment. I notice a few years ago Bumblebee came out with its premium tuna in the gold cans.................it's the same stuff that we used to get in regular cans 25 years ago (although, fortunately, I don't still have any of those old cans to compare - just my opinion)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                LOL! Chinese restaurants? I grew up in California, lived in the San Diego area but spent two weeks every summer in San Francisco. I would happily skip down Grant Avenue, the heart of SF's Chinatown, holding my step-grandmother's hand, knowing that we were headed for her herbalist's shop, and that I would be abandoned in the midst of dried horned toads in basketsful and preserved snakes in glass jars while they went in back to assemble her herbs. But I endured it with determined good cheer because I knew when we were through we would go to a dim sum restaurant where I was given total liberty of having anything I wanted from the trolleys! I suspect I would have to be nearly as old as Confucius to remember the first Chinese restaurant in any of my childhood neighborhoods!

                                                                                                                                                                But what a fantastic adventure it must have been to experience the first Chinese restaurant in your home time. The wonderful and charming thing about an experience like that is that it doesn't matter whether the food was good, bad, or indifferent by Chinese standards, to the first timer it is exotic and exciting. What fun!

                                                                                                                                                                In this age of "year round anything," so much has been lost. For example, corn-on-the-cob today is just plain old have-it-anytime corn on the cob. Today it never has the flavor of the long awaited first ear of the season corn on the cob of yesteryear. The first apricots. The first run of grunion. The first tomatoes from the back yard. <sigh> It isn't just milk that we've homogenized. It's our lives!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh well, I grew up on Cape Cod, so it was unique to me! For you perhaps, then, it was your first encounter with a whole cooked lobster! Although the veggies and fruits are available year-round, there's still that sparkling moment of the first home-grown tomato being sliced up. We are now in the midst of lots of trees, so coaxing that first caboose of a BLT is always an issue. But Boy! It always tasted good!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Julia was the one & only......!

                                                                                                                                                            1. Ed Sullivan, is there another NO. Times are different, life is different. He is no different than Julia. She was an icon, he was too, many others in sports, music, etc. There will never be another, but there may be someone of this time who influenced the way we cook. Emeril to a degree. Then Rachel all in their own rights. Not light Julia, but all had an impact. Elvis, Michael Jackson, lots of icons who all changed the way thing think about either music, food, life, entertainment, etc. They are of their own and should be remembered that way.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Maybe if we put Michael Pollan in an apron...

                                                                                                                                                                1. This may not count as "today's equivalent" of Julia but I have learned a great deal from Marion Cunningham (no, not from Happy Days ;)). I so rarely see her mentioned on these boards.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Boudleaux

                                                                                                                                                                    Hear, hear. Her books are wonderful (love the Baking Book, you can find recipes for just about anything you might conceivably want to bake in it - my favorite shortbread and madeleine recipes come from it) and recipes extremely well described as well as infallible. The detailed descriptions of basic recipes such as piecrust rival Julia's for completeness. Her redoing of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook was one of the signal events of the early 80's food scene (used copies available on ABEBooks for as little as $1.00). There's a very nice tribute to her on David Lebovitz's website by the way.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      Yay! Another Marion Cunningham fan! Yes, the story on David Lebovitz's site was wonderful!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Boudleaux

                                                                                                                                                                        She used to be the consulting chef at a restaurant in Berkeley, CA. Used to get up early (was in college then and 11:00 am was dawn to me) just to eat breakfast there as a treat. Her books are all excellent, and you are right, her horn isn't tooted nearly enough.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm a fan of Ina Garten.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Introducing something not already popular with American viewers, not a chef but a good teacher - Martha Stewart.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. We don't have one.

                                                                                                                                                                        We have Martha, but she's a totally different animal than Julia was. People sometimes equate Julia with 'perfection' but that's really Martha's arena. Martha goes about all that business very intentionally, whereas Julia simply wanted to introduce French cooking techniques in a straight-forward way. The idea of French cuisine often gets equated to the idea of 'perfect, fussy cooking' when Julia tried to prove it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                                        We have Ina Garten, who it can be argued shares a few of Julia's qualities, but I don't think Ina will ever have Julia's influence. I love Ina and her books though, especially her older tomes.

                                                                                                                                                                        We have Lidia Bastianach, who is probably a close Italian equivalent, but again, I don't think she's on quite the same level when it comes to influencing generations of cooks in a massive way. Julia revolutionized cooking for the American housewife, and after a while, for everyone else too. I don't claim to know much about Lidia, but I don't think she's accomplished the same feat.