The time is a few years ago and the place is my mother-in-law's apartment in the Chicago area. My mother-in-law is watching TV when we arrive: she is enjoying the program, so we start watching it too. On the screen there is Julia Child preparing a chicken for roasting. That was my first and only encounter with her. Julia's manners and her interaction with her partner, Jacques Pepin, made me overcome my natural aversion to watching television. That was also my first and only encounter with a food program. I don't watch TV of any kind, so this has nothing to do with food programs in particular.
The episode occurred at a time when I was not yet interested in cooking, so it was only later on that I realized the importance of the person and of the program I had watched. As a result of that encounter, for me Julia Child is inescapably linked to roast chicken. The image that is most vividly etched in my memory is that of a hand slid underneath the skin: I had never seen anybody preparing chicken that way. What I cannot get from my memory is whose hand that was. Has anybody seen the episode I am describing?
I don't remember anything else, most probably because we decided to start a conversation and turned off the TV. As a result, I don't know what a pollo arrosto alla Julia Child looks like. Later on I heard the story of Julia dropping a chicken on the floor and nonchalantly picking it up, then I read that the story is a myth and that nothing of the sort ever happened. I guess it is part of the price you pay for being famous, having an action attributed to you that people believe is in tune with your public persona. I am sure the chicken protagonist of the episode I am referring to did not end up on the floor at any time while I was watching.
I have recently written about pollo arrosto and the place the delicious dish had in my childhood (visit the earlier post to listen to a recording featuring the Italian words). The current post is my entry for the Julia Child Birthday Event, a loving tribute with a lovely logo organized by Lisa from Champaign Taste. I have found many references on the web to Julia Child's recipe for pollo arrosto, though none of the ones I read instructs to slide your hands under the chicken's skin to spread the seasoning. I chose a recipe from the Food Network, which sounds delicious and which I may one day soon try, since I have signed up for email alerts from Wild Chick Farm a local provider of organic, pasture-raised chickens, from whom I have been buying incredible eggs for some time.
Here is the roundup of the event.