“When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions.” — Julia Child
It’s one of the most legendary incidents in the history of The French Chef: Julia Child was attempting to flip a potato pancake to cook it on the other side, and the flip didn’t quite work and the pancake broke. Having just said that flipping anything required “the courage of your convictions,” she attributed the failure to precisely that lack. But, she added quickly, all was not lost; you can always push the pancake back together again, because if you’re alone in the kitchen, who’s going to see? (The moment is immortalized by the video above, in which a devoted YouTuber compares Julia’s original presentation to Meryl Streep’s reenactment in the film Julie & Julia and finds Meryl wanting. It’s still funny.)
It occurred to us while planning our Julia Project three years ago, and our Julia Child 100th Birthday Dinner this year, that those wise words of Julia’s still apply today. Julia’s approach to cooking was all about using the courage of your convictions. Taking risks, trying new things–and, sometimes, figuring out a way to salvage success from disaster. She understood that, especially if you’re the average home chef, if you have a cooking snafu you don’t always have the time or money to start over–and if you never try anything different, you never grow or develop. If you’ve ever turned on a stove, you know that’s true.
When in your life have you most needed the courage of your convictions in the kitchen? Tell us about it and you could win a $50 Bistro gift certificate! For example…
–You had trouble with an important dinner for guests, and had to think on your feet to save it. You did, and received loads of compliments.
–You tried a tricky new recipe you weren’t sure you could pull off, but you did.
–You thought up a variation on a tried-and-true recipe that you had no guarantee would work, and maybe even heard doubts from others: “You really think that’s going to come out?” You experimented with it anyway, and it was wonderful.
–You had to improvise a meal with what happened to be available in the house at the time–something edible–and not only succeeded, but got praise.
–You shocked your friends, family, and even yourself by proving, simply, that you could learn to cook.
–You embarked on an adventure at the dining table (yours or someone else’s) by trying a food, a dish, a combination of dishes you weren’t sure you were going to like, but went for it anyway–and found it delicious.
Write your story in 500 words or fewer, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, August 14 (be sure to put “Julia Child Contest Entry” in the header). If we choose your story as the best example of exhibiting the “Courage of Your Convictions in the Kitchen,” you’ll be our winner!