"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Kitchen Goddess Two

by Julie Tilsner on May 17, 2007

in Kitchen Gods and Goddesses

JuliaathomeThis is the first in a series of profiles of the Kitchen Goddesses: Friends who cook and can coax major culinary experiences out of a handful of fresh produce and a few utensils. Each of these women over the years has inspired me in some way. If I can’t exactly follow in their footsteps, then they’ve encouraged me to gimp along behind as best I can.

I met Julia in The Courtyard. For a select few who were there, it is understood that the Courtyard refers to our student family housing complex at UC Berkeley. There were many courtyards at UC Village. But ours was the best one. Fifteen families, all graduate students. All with small children. Potlucks were rampant. We had neighbors from all around the globe (and Utah). Julia hailed originally from L.A. We bonded instantly.

My fondest cooking memory with Julia? The one that springs to mind first is our gazpacho factory. Our plots in the village community garden were overflowing with zucchinis and tomatoes. She taught me how to make the stuff, tasting continually for the best combo of tomato and green. Our student family kitchens were way too small for two people to actually cook together, so more usually one of us would cook while the other sat and monitored the proceedings, filling the wine glasses frequently.

What’s the first dish you remember making by yourself?
“I attempted a very complicated butter cookie with strawberry jam filling at five (including reading the recipe from the cookbook).My mom found me bawling in a dark kitchen with the ingredients out and flour all over the place. I had never even helped her cook before so I think she was surprised.”

What’s your earliest kitchen memory?
“Being bathed in the sink”

Who inspired your love of cooking/baking?
“My step-mother among others (my sisters would probably be angry with me that I didn’t say my own mother but I just don’t remember her being that interested in cooking and my step-mother really was. I was her sous chef. We worked seamlessly together for hours in the kitchen. We really bonded over cooking together.)”

What’s your favorite dish to make right now?
I like simple recipes. I love thinly shredded zucchini in a lemon/garlic vinaigrette with parsley and shaved parmesean.

Are you a bread person or a pie person?
I don’t consider myself a pie person or a bread person, even though I’ve made successful bread and I’ve made successful pie. Because I think those were both flukes. I’m good at sauces, I’m good at soups. I’m good at vegetables.

Describe a dish you botched badly.
There have been so many – usually it’s because I’m not really wanting to be cooking or not paying attention.

Your favorite cookbook of all time?
I don’t have one, yet.

If you could be anywhere in the world, eating anything you wanted, where would you be, and eating what?
In Mexico, eating hot “elotes” slathered with cheese, lime and chile from the street vendor.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

holler May 18, 2007 at 9:30 am

I really enjoyed the interview!
I would like to hear your own answers to the questions posed!
I look forward to the next interview!


seetrosie November 3, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Kitchen Goddess #2 is going to love Sydney,and Australia ! We have beautiful produce,a load of great food magazines ( ask her very nicely to send you Delicious and Donna Hay ) and fabulous farmer’s markets,regional foods and places to eat. SE Asia is very well represented, even in Adelaide where I live, which is much,much smaller than Sydney, the Vietnamese population is thriving and their restaurants and supermarkets are favourites of mine.
I did find a chocolate cake recipe using beetroot! The name of the cake isn’t as romantic sounding as “Red Velvet Cake”, in fact it’s called “Chocolate Beetroot Cake”, I guess Aussies like to call a spade a spade…
I will try it, see if the colour is what I hope it will be.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: