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   Date: 11/13/08

Julia Child Day to Put Local Food on the Plate

By Jennifer DeBerardinis ’11

About Julia Child

Read a Q & A with Anna Lappé

This year’s Julia Child Day will feature dishes that Julia herself might have feasted on as a student nearly 75 years ago: locally churned vanilla ice cream, cobbler with apples grown at nearby orchards, and turkeys raised near the Smith campus.

“We’re keeping the tradition from when she was here,” said Sylvia Crafts, Hubbard dining room coordinator and a member of the Julia Child Day menu committee, which plans the day’s cuisine.      

Back when Julia Child ’34 lived on campus, Smith bought much more of its produce locally, and this year’s holiday will honor the world-famous chef’s legacy while reviving the college’s dining practices from days past. 

Julia Child Day, on Thursday, Nov. 20, will feature a presentation by eco-chef Bryant Terry and food activist Anna Lappé, co-authors of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, at 4:15 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room. Also, Julia Child’s recipes will be part of menus campus-wide, including in the Campus Center Café, the Smith College Club, and house dining rooms.

Some of the dishes featured as part of this year’s Julia Child Day will be oatmeal cranberry pancakes, offered for “breakfast at night” in Hubbard and Morrow/Wilson, and the ever-popular Yorkshire pudding, to be served in Cushing/Emerson, Chase and Lamont.

“I’m sure they would have had that in the ’60s,” said Nancy Long, senior chef in King/Scales and a menu committee member, of Yorkshire pudding. Instead of the beef fat traditionally used to create the popover, the Smith version features vegetarian margarine, she pointed out.

Northrop/Gillet and Comstock/Wilder will feature all vegan and vegetarian menus, ripe with recipes from the featured book Grub.

Selections from Julia Child Day 2007, in Comstock House dining room...

Other menu highlights will include roasted yam puree with coconut milk, citrus collards with raisins, pumpkin bisque, roast turkey and the Julia Child Day staple, whipped potatoes.
The variety of options, say menu committee members, is designed to accommodate the dedicated students who make a point of sampling dishes from every dining hall during the evening. Committee members are impressed by those efficient eaters every year, they say.
And the dishes on which they will feast are months in the making, according to committee member Pat Mahar, area manager in dining services.
Before the first Julia Child Day, in 2003, committee members combed through Child’s cookbooks searching for recipes that reflected “the genuine joy she seemed to take in food,” said Crafts.
Each year’s cuisine is modified, taking into account feedback from the previous year and availability of food from vendors. 
This year, with the event falling on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, Crafts was determined to keep turkey on the Julia Child Day menu, she said. But instead of ordering turkey from the usual vendor, this year’s order will be from a local farmer.

...and in the Campus Center.

That’s why the food-ordering process started months ago.
“It’s a little bit more difficult but definitely worth it,” said Mahar of ordering from local food-producers. “It takes a lot more planning.”
The committee began the process over the summer, when they each offered menu ideas after thumbing through recipes in Grub, and firmed up the menu during a meeting over October break.
Actual food preparation will begin November 19, when kitchens across campus will buzz with the sound of furious potato peeling. 
It’s all worth it, the committee agrees. Nothing lifts student spirits during the pre-Thanksgiving slump like a helping or two of Child’s whipped potatoes.

The hearty French-inspired cuisine “boosts morale and comes at a good time of the year,” Mahar said. 
And it’s not just about tickling the taste buds. Buying locally grown food also supports environmental sustainability and supports the local economy, she added.  
Julia Child would have liked that.


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