I had to write this for school and it ended up meaning a lot to me, so I wanted to share it.
I read Julia Child’s, My Life in France, at the same time that I was embarking on an incredible journey to change my life. Reading Julia’s accounts of the things she had “loved most in life; [her] husband, Paul Child, la belle France, and the many pleasures of cooking and eating,” was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.
It’s hard for me to remember when and how food came to mean so much to me, I guess because I can’t recall a time in my life when it wasn’t important. For me, food has marked my world in meaningful ways since my first memories of spending time in my abuelito’s restaurant kitchen. When I think about that time in the restaurant I remember a lot of hot and cold and wet. The air that hit me when I swung open the kitchen door, hot. My aubelitos’ chest when I hugged him, hot and wet. All of the different tastes - the soups, baked clams, NY cheesecake, gravies - hot and cold and wet…and wonderful. Since then, I have always loved – with glee and passion – to eat. I found that eating was an incredible way to give myself joy and to also learn about and connect with other people. Through this love of eating, I came to experiment with and to grow to love cooking and feeding people.
I’ve always been directed and ambitious and those things, along with a lot of love and luck, helped me to be one of the first people in my family to go to college, getting degrees from Harvard and Stanford. Going to places like that – places where success felt like an obligation - led me to follow a rigorous, though safe, path in business. I disliked my job for years, always wondering what it would be like to do something I really loved. What if I were to align my passion for food with my ambition? Actually, what if it had nothing to do with ambition, what if I just followed my passion for food?
When I read My Life in France I felt overcome with relief and gratefulness that Julia Child finally found, followed and submerged herself in her passion for food. Imagine had she not followed her heart? Food, food culture and food media in the United States would look remarkably different. Julia’s journey showed me that there’s just no other way. To not follow one’s heart, to not follow my heart, would be a life of regret and one I don’t want to live.
And so for the last eleven months I have been pursuing my passion – to learn as much as I can about food and eating and to find ways to communicate to people about all of it. It feels thrilling, unbelievably scary and absolutely amazing. After spending a decade researching and writing what would eventually become Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia learned that her book would not be published. Her reaction was incredible: “I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself….I was proud of it…I had found myself through the arduous writing process. Even if we were never able to publish our book, I had discovered my raison d’etre in life…” I can’t think of anything more inspiring than that. In finding and following my passion, I am finding myself too, and it’s the best feeling of all.