Savoring Life With Julia Child’s Abandon

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Julia Child gave us excuses to cook with vermouth. How could I resist following her recipe for living with abandon?

Within hours of choosing “Rule #1: Live With Abandon,” I prepared to savor the challenge Karen Karbo put forth to bloggers to celebrate the release of her book Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life.

Julia’s abandon would be a hard act to follow, at least according to the titillating Fear and Loathing-esque opener: “In the summer of 1946, Julia McWilliams and Paul Child drove across America. A bottle of vodka and a thermos of mixed martinis rolled around the backseat of Julia’s Buick.” All I could think was: “I want that.” Not the booze, the reckless joy of the open road.
Karbo makes a damn good point:
“My theory is that our real attachment to Julia is less about her cooking, or even about what she did for the cause of serious cuisine, and more about our admiration for her immutable aptitude for being herself…having the confidence to stand in front of a camera, week after week, without trying to change one thing about herself.”
If this “giant” of a woman could live with abandon without one whit of self-doubt, why not me? Why not you?

My Experiment in Living With Abandon

Abandon and freedom to “be” are not the same thing. I’d never really thought about abandon, although I’m no stranger to practicing child-like enthusiasm and spontaneity. However the idea of not questioning myself, ala Julia, would be  the real new experience. Sort of like not thinking during meditation.
“I’m never TOO anything for anything” would be my week’s mantra, as Karbo suggests.

It takes 2 for abandon (not really, but a pot bellied pig never hurts)

What that means is avoiding thoughts like “I’m too out of shape to date. I’m too old to learn guitar.”

Biking home after reading Chapter 1 on a gym exercycle, I switched gears. Literally. The chain came off. How possibly could this happen in the exact same spot the gears had gotten fucked up 6 weeks earlier? Only this time I could not for the life of me get the chain back on. “I’m not too lame to fix this,” I thought, as my first attempt. Hmm probably shouldn’t use a double negative in my attempt to be positive.

Although I did manage to squish two fingers between the chain and gear yet as cars whizzed by, visions of blood mixed with grease. This was not my vision of emulating Julia’s “save the giblets” Saturday Night Live parody.

I did not fix it but walked the bike home, pissed off, rushing to greet a friend on her way over for a lunch. Plan A had been a lovely time making stuffed grapeleaves. As it was, my hands were so blackened with grease I could hardly get my door open. I cursed my handyman while twisting the knob to get the door just right to close, with my weatherstripping-in-progress.

What would Julia do? After all, the book tells about how the day before her wedding she and Paul suffered a huge car crash, getting thrown from the car, only to move ahead the next day, bandages and all. “God I’m a whiner,” I thought. Julia would make the friggin grapeleaves and suck it up. And so I did. Sns vermouth.

The steaming dolmas fed my soul. My friend calmed me down, as we sat in the sun. My week of abandon would start then, post-bike fiasco. Whether due to my intention or coincidence, the week teemed with frivolity, including:

  1. A week full of dinner party house warmings and birthday celebrations
  2. An unlikely video interview and fabulous new food friends
  3. Other lusciousness that shall remain vague yet slathered with innuendo

And as the week progressed, the mantra to really did was help me be true to myself and my desires.

The Real Food for Thought

Karbo takes a few guesses at Julia’s secret abbondanza sauce:

“Maybe it was because Julia was always the tallest person in the room (beginning with her Montessori pre-school class), or because she was old (thirty-seven) when she discovered her passion for cooking, or because she was very old (fifty-one) and very tall and had that cartoon voice when she hit it big as The French Chef. But if she wanted to do something, she did it.”

Ironically most people would use being tall, old or a late bloomer as excuses for not being good enough and not likely to succeed. The experiment to not be too anything must live on. And I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. Carpe aging. Let’s #LiveLikeJulia

how to move to France

Living in France and Teaching Writing Workshops

Even more fascinating than this book is that the author has crafted a life in France where she teaches writing workshops.

Since 2016, the question of how we in America can move to France or Italy or Portugal has been somewhat of a national fixation!

I’ve connected with real estate agents all over Europe along with folks who specialize in helping foreigners buy real estate and learn what’s required.

Let’s live like Julia and at least investigate the possibilities.

Ask me anything about moving to France or another country!