Spring & Wisdom From Julia Child

Picture: Giuseppe Arcimboldo, La Primavera. 1563, Oil on Canvas.

Prompted by a new book, Julia Child: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Helen Rosner of the New Yorker writes this week about the political side of Julia Child.  Rosner makes a passing observation that, “Her advocacy for seasonal vegetables, good dairy, and whole ingredients during the post-war golden age of canned and processed food was political only incidentally.”

Child advised that a reason to learn to cook was to escape the formality of recipes.  Then you can “get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” It is a reminder that “seasonal cooking” not that long ago was called “cooking.”

So in light of a sunny spring day, here are tips from a PBS Website of hers on tackling the farmers’ market (can’t promise they are her actual words, but do seem to reflect her guidance):

Picking the premium piece of produce is your job, not the farmer’s. Use all of your senses – more than just sight. Since there are many ways of chemically enhancing fresh produce, color alone is not enough.

  • Pick fruits and vegetables that attract your attention with their aromatic smells. This is often a good sign that the produce is in its peak.
  • Carefully handle the prospective peach or tempting tomato to make sure it feels firm but yielding to the touch.
  • Look for bruises or pockmarks and make sure your choice has the brightest coloring of its kind.
  • Remember that some of the most delicious organic produce may be irregularly shaped but should not be overlooked.