Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie, Julia, and the Family Next Door

Everyone has heard of the rule of Six Degrees of Separation.

As it turns out, I am only two degrees separated from Julia Child! I find this excellent, as I just love to cook, when time and life allow. To me, Julia Child was a woman who drank deeply from the cup of life.

How do these degrees of separation work?

When I was a teenager, a very cool family moved in next door. The parents were former Cal Berkley grads, and the Dad was an oarsman from Cal. I think he might have competed in the Olympics. The story was that this Dad worked with the "State Department". We bought that story. Completely.

Anyway, this was a wonderful family for me to hang around. First of all, there were more than three people, and being an only child, this was a very good thing. They used to have very fun, large, and loud parties, and were very gracious to my family, always inviting me over (perhaps they sensed my loss in life as an only child). Lots of laughter, always! I also remember stories about this families friendship with Julia Child, of all people!

We used to have some amazing basketball games in their swimming pool. We rigged up a real hoop that was attached to a full sized backboard, mounted on the diving board, which allowed for in the water dunk shots. For a high school kid who just loved basketball, this was excellent.

So, lets connect this to my date with my wife last night.

Nancy and I went out for a movie date, and saw the unabashed chick-flick, "Julie & Julia". The trailer is below, but suffice it to say this movie deals in part with the early life of Julia Child, one of the most famous cooking writers of all time. Great film, lots of laughter, and joy, and cooking and a real celebration of marriage. Quite refreshing, frankly.

Now, back to the two degrees of separation.

As it turns out, the Dad next door.....he did not exactly work for the State Department. He worked for the CIA. Much to my shock, I found this out just a couple of years ago, when the Dad next door passed away (guess there is a rule about telling the truth about that sort of thing), and I was reconnected via the Internet with the kids I grew up with. Also, a minor detail in the story is that the precursor to the CIA was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

And here is the connection to Julia Child. Julia was married to Paul Child, who was an employee of the OSS, through the guise of the State Department. Many years ago, my childhood neighbor dad and his wife were stationed in Oslo, Norway together, and Julia Child and her husband Paul were stationed there as well.

Julia was trying to get her very first cookbook published, so she decided to test recipes with a cooking group that was made up of international embassy wives. Turns out our neighbors were in this group. They met once a month at a member's home, cooked all morning and then sat down to lunch and wine. The wife of the secret spy who lived next door where I grew up even spent time with Julia as the years went on, helping on occasion with her TV cooking show.

So there you have it. I almost, sorta, kinda, but not really knew Julia Child.

If my life gets any more thrilling than this, I may pass out from the excitement.

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