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September 14, 2009
Every time I scrape the last little bit of anything out of a bowl, I think of Julia.
When we were taping Baking with Julia, I had what I thought of as the best seat in the house, a bedroom on the second floor of Julia's Cambridge Victorian house. The room was referred to as The Red Room, because red was the predominant color in the paintings - works by Paul Child - that hung on the walls. It was also the make-up room, which meant that when I came in, at about 7 am, I'd find Julia reading The Boston Globe and The New York Times and watching the morning news and having her hair done. It also meant that I got to chat with all the baker's as they got fluffed-up before taking their star turns. And, it meant that when everyone was downstairs, I got to sit at my desk with the split-screen monitor, the one that showed me everything the three cameras were shooting.
I didn't miss a single thing and, sitting up there alone, I got to giggle out loud without disturbing the shoot, and I got to play a little game with myself, the one in which I waited to see how long it would be before Julia would give the baker her little "let's not waste this" talk.
Every time a chef would scrape something out of a mixing bowl and into a pan, Julia would wait one beat, then she'd look in the bowl and either ask the baker why he or she hadn't used every last bit of the batter, or she'd grab a spatula and scrape the remains out herself. And, as she'd scrape, she might say something like, "You chefs might be able to waste a little batter, but not us home cooks." And when Julia got done scraping, there wasn't a streak left for licking.
I didn't think of it then, but when I look back on it I'm a little surprised that the chefs were so profligate - it certainly went against the grain of old-school training, in which every bit of food was used, accounting, I'm sure, for the creation of a million vegetable soups and trifles.
It's also not a particularly French way of doing things and, while Julia wasn't French, she was trained in France, a France still feeling the effects of World War II. To this day, French people 'of a certain age' talk about finishing whatever food is on their plates and will say that either they or their parents remember what it was like when food was scarce. In fact, a few weeks ago, when I was baking in Paris, I poured the sugar from the box into my canister and was about to toss the box when a friend took it, tore open the top and poured the last little teaspoonful of sugar into the jar. I must have looked a little surprised because she said, "This just proves I'm French - I can't let anything go to waste."
I don't think it's French - I think it's smart. And I think it's Julia-ish, too.
Tags: Baking with Julia
, Julia Child
Chefs, Restaurants and Shops
In the Kitchen
| September 14, 2009 2:32 PM
So I finally got to see the film yesterday and absolutely loved it. I didn't know Julia Child before so it was a wonderful discovery, especially given my own love of French cuisine. Thanks so much for your beautifully written stories and glimpses into her life. I didn't know French people were so into using every scrap or drop up but in Germany, that's a big thing and the first time I ever made a cake here, people were shocked because there was still batter in the bowl!
| September 14, 2009 3:31 PM
I can hear her speak when you quote her.
How I wish my interest in cooking and baking had been greater years back~
I would have studied her books and her ways (never too late I know:)..
I am a bit like Julia..I don't like to waste..I find we are so lucky..to have so much..I never want to feel if only in myself that I take it for granted.
What a life you have had~:)
| September 14, 2009 4:42 PM
Sweet! Thanks for sharing. You're so lucky to have known Julia!
The Italian Dish
| September 14, 2009 9:01 PM
"You chefs might be able to waste a little batter, but not us home cooks."
God, I love that!
Great post. I smiled a lot.
| September 14, 2009 9:10 PM
Hehe, the chefs at school are always telling us to save our scraps of dough (especially anything laminated!) and showing us how to use it. The school is, after all, French.
| September 14, 2009 9:20 PM
I love this story. I do the same in my bakery. I tell my bakers that the bowls go into the sink as clean as they came out. They often look at me as if I'm nuts. The sink will never appreciate it like I hope my guests will. I grew up watching Julia Child. You are lucky to have known her. Thank you for sharing you stories.
| September 14, 2009 9:47 PM
Its nice to have these little snippets about your experiences and memories of Julia. For me, it's the real Julia, perhaps some of her not portrayed in the movie. So fun to giggle as I read and look forward to more. There is one thing about a little smidgen remaining in the bowl.....you know the tasting with your finger? Yumm! Certainly, don't want to miss that opportunity.
| September 15, 2009 12:04 AM
Thanks Dorie! Wonderful story.. :)
| September 15, 2009 12:48 AM
I'm a scrapper! But I can't swear there's absolutely nothing left to lick after I scrape. I'm getting better, though.
| September 15, 2009 10:43 AM
I am a scraper... But sometimes things do directly into my stomach without the regular stop in the dish... But there is no waste indeed :)
| September 15, 2009 11:11 AM
I have to say that I am a scraper too :)
It always bothers me when I watch someone cooking and they put a bowl with a tenth of the batter remaining in it into the sink.
Thanks for sharing your memories of Julia with us. We would have all loved to be there with you.
| September 15, 2009 11:56 AM
I must have picked this up from my French-Canadian mother or grandmother. I am a fanatic about scraping the bowl clean, it drives my kids crazy. I hope they will pick up that habit someday.
| September 15, 2009 1:54 PM
This is another wonderful story. Today I dipped my toe into Julia's world and baked her Reine de Saba for my birthday. It is simple, delicious and the perfect birthday cake. Honestly, we've eaten about 1/3 of the cake already and it is barely early afternoon. I couldn't wait until after dinner to eat it!
Martha in Kansas
| September 16, 2009 11:12 AM
Thanks for sharing these memories of Julia. I'm always amused when Martha Stewart does the same thing when her guests don't scrape the bowls clean. I chalk it up to having limited tv time rather than being wasteful.
| September 16, 2009 1:00 PM
I am the same way. I know that teaspoon won't make much difference to my cake, but I just can't bear to waste it. My grandparents went through the Depression living on farms and taught us to avoid waste.
| September 17, 2009 2:46 AM
Great post! I enjoyed reading it! It can serve as a realization to many that not all we consider waste is waste.
| September 17, 2009 11:36 AM
I just love all these stories about Julia Child. I just read her book recently and it is wonderful to hear your stories--she seems like she was a wonderful lady. I love that she seemed so "down to earth". My husband and I frequent a Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara that is essentially a little shack on a run-down lot, but serves delicious and authentic fare. I found out that it was one of Julia's favorite local restaurants. I love that!
| September 17, 2009 11:51 AM
I am always appalled how chefs in cooking shows, particularly in those shows that are not shot live, are appallingly oblivious to what is left on the bowl or the table when they pour out the contents into serving dishes or baking pans. Julia was right - home cooks dont do that. Or at least home cooks who know the value of food. Thank you for your charming and informative article.
| September 17, 2009 5:44 PM
We all need to be more like that. A few weeks ago I made some zucchini bread, and the zucchini I used was rather large. After shredded the beast, the shreds were full of liquid. I squeezed them over a strainer and poured all that glorious green juice into a zipper bag and tossed it in the freezer. It will make it's way into a stew or soup this winter.
I do this with everything that I can. Waste not want not :)
| September 17, 2009 9:34 PM
Thank you for writing this article. It brought back memories of cooking school and learning all about Julia. What an inspiration - and you are too! Thank you.
I am a firm believer in not wasting too - I suppose MY French parents were responsible for this also!
Thanks for the blog - never stop!
(If you like French wines like I do, click on my name for the website of a great wine reviewer - you won't find better!)
| September 18, 2009 12:16 PM
Great post! One more reason to admire Julia Child. My grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch, and she taught her children and grandchildren to scrape the bowl until not a speck remained. I remember being scolded as a child for not scraping the bowl - "You could have got another whole muffin from what you just threw away." It was true, and I mended my ways forever.
| September 18, 2009 6:39 PM
Yes, my wonderful 85 yo French mother-in-law gets somewhat hysterical about waste - especially bread of any kind. Remnants of living in occupied Paris during WW2.
| September 21, 2009 6:18 PM
Wonderful story. I edited a cute piece a few weeks ago about Julia's old Cambridge house:
| September 22, 2009 12:26 AM
And here I thought I was just obsessive compulsive about scraping out the bowl! Thank you Dorie--you've given me an excuse for my bowl scraping. I'm just trying to do as Julia would do. Ha!
| September 25, 2009 12:19 PM
I loved this anecdote about Julia. My Grandmother is Parisienne and lived in Paris during the Nazi occupation when food was scarce and nothing ever went to waste. Despite generations passing and her spending several decades in the U.S., her reluctance to waste anything is still very much a part of her character. At the end of a meal, not one green bean in the pan is allowed to stay there, nor one last bite of potatoes or beef.
Despite protests from full diners, she is always shoving the last few bites on to your plate saying we must finish it all. If you tell her your full, she responds with a "mais, vraiment! mange et tais tois"
| September 29, 2009 5:20 PM
I have a little one, so it'll be a long time before I can see the Julia movie. So sad!
Food or otherwise - I try to find a purpose for everything and waste nothing. Easier said than done, but I'm working on that.
Now - all this scraping the batter out of the bowl talk and drizzly rain.....I'm itchin' to bake!
| October 1, 2009 8:24 AM
Oh that's great! Scraping the bowl is always the best part :)
| October 3, 2009 8:22 PM
I'm a scraper too, and if I do leave anything in the bowl it's with the intent to lick it clean, so there is no waste either way!
| October 3, 2009 8:32 PM
This may be a German thing, too! My family is of much German background, and we always used a spatula to get every last bit of peanut butter in the jar. It's a good habit to get into.
| March 11, 2010 4:52 PM
I'm Mexican and my grandmother would say (pointing at the bowl) there's a slice of cake in there......
She would clean the bowl with the spatula 'til there was nothing left.
I can't help it I'm the same way too, and probably my daugther will be so...
| March 12, 2010 11:42 AM
Yes, I'm the same way - and whatever didn't go into the pan got licked up by me or my daughter (or the dog!). Once, when the Brownies were at our house baking, one of the leaders went nuts about how all the girls were going to die from licking raw chocolate chip cookie dough...sheesh!
As my daughter grew up, and we watched cooking shows, it would drive her crazy how the Barefoot Contessa would continually leave half the batter in the pan.
PS None of the Brownies died!
Stephanie from CopyKat.com
| March 19, 2010 9:10 AM
What an enjoyable insight from Julia Child. I love batter, yep, I almost intentionally leave myself just a bit to enjoy later. Batter is wonderful. I can definately appreciate the need to be frugal. Most of us aren't chefs and we do need to be mindful about our cooking.
| June 18, 2010 3:32 PM
I love your blog, so I read now everything that I missed in the last 2 years.
It is funny that you mentioned WWII and French people, this is a very common tradition among WWII survivors like my grand parents - and there for we are never allowed to throw food - not to mention bread (which is the most sacred of them all).
| September 8, 2010 10:32 PM
Thanks for a great post about Julia. I learned to cook by watching her. One of the things I always noticed was that she didn't waste a drop. Just reading your post makes me want to watch Julia on TV immediately. It's just good for the food lovers soul!
| September 13, 2010 8:15 PM
This literally brought a tear to my eye, my grandmother did so many little things like this, one of them was catching stray drops of water from the tap into her watering can for her plants. I thought this was true for Americans too, because of the depression?
Dining Table Set Gal
| October 15, 2010 12:02 AM
A nice thing to say! I admit, I am also a scraper. This is the part that I'm the best. We own a Dining Table ecommerce site and are always looking for great content to help inspire. Thanks.
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