For the last five years–since the move Julie and Julia came out–my husband, Joe, and I have hosted a birthday party for Julia Child on or near the weekend of her August 15 birthday. And I invite you to do the same!
Having just seen the movie with my parents and sister five years ago, and looking for an excuse to gather some friends together for a late summer party, I hit on a birthday party for this larger than life icon and role model for home cooks who wanted to elevate their culinary repertoire a la Francaise (beginning in 1961 with the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)
This summer soiree has turned out to be our friends’ favorite gathering of the warm weather season, so the tradition has continued for this, our sixth summer. And it is a no-brainer for me as the hostess because it is fortune du pot or potluck.
However, some rules do apply: while I do not insist that contributions be vegan or vegetarian (I am the only vegan in the crowd and Reese Lusk the only strict vegetarian), they usually are, e.g. Beet Bourguignon. But they must be prepared according to or inspired by one of Julia’s recipes or, at least, something French. And everyone is asked to bring a bottle of a favorite wine, prerferably French, of course.
Our generous comrades go way beyond with gifts and flowers, all of it unnecessary but much appreciated. And the presentation! All of these folks love good simple design as much as they love good simple (or sometimes not-so-simple) food and good company, so it is like a tantalizing parade as our guests start arriving.
We only confer minimally ahead of time about what eachof us plans to prepare, but the spread is alway spsrawling and spectacular in both taste and appearance, with every dish complementing every other beautifully. I sometimes prepare a birthday cake, though not always, as its not like we need to amp it up in the celebration department. Wine, conversation and good cheer flow freely for several hours around our dining table that comfortably seats 10.
Iget a kick out of designing a digital invitation like the one shown here in Microsoft Publisher after conferring about a date via email (sometimes we’ve had to hold the party the week before due to scheduling conflicts). After that, there’s nothing more to do except anticipate a beautiful summer evening that practically creates itself.