Bon Appétit! (Encouragement for Creators)

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Innovative people have always had their fair share of critics: “It’ll NEVER work!”; “It’ll never FLY!”; “It’ll never FLOAT!”; “It’ll never stay SUBMERGED!” Anyone who knows their history, has learned to NEVER say “Never”! Still, many of us, as creators, are on the receiving end of the “No can do” attitudes and criticisms of certain agents, editors, publishers, financiers, and other assorted people who choose to see all the obstacles to any given project or goal. For your encouragement, we’ll now share the story of a creator and her naysayers. And since we’ve been discussing cookbooks in our Angel in the Kitchen series, we’ve chosen as our subject, the late Julia Child, who wrote one of the most influential cookbooks of the 20th Century.

Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. Although she’s Internationally recognized as a multiple award-winning chef, author and television personality — as well as THE person who introduced and popularized French cooking in America — she attained none of this notoriety until she’d reached the ripe age of 51. Late bloomer? Some things are worth waiting for.

Many of us remember Julia Child as the elderly and unassuming French chef with the unusual voice that seemed to warble. It’s interesting to learn that as a teenager, the six-foot, two-inch-tall Julia participated in sports while attending Smith College, and was an avid basketball player. She graduated from Smith in 1934 with a BA in English. Her career in cooking was still decades away. Long before she was “The French Chef,” she moved to New York City and worked as a copywriter for the advertising department of a firm that marketed upscale home furnishings. She returned to California
in 1937 and spent the next four years writing for local publications.

During World War II, Child tried to enlist, in both the WACs (Women’s Army Corp) and the U.S. Navy’s WAVES, but was rejected for being “too tall”! So, Child joined the famed OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and worked her way up from typist, to a top secret researcher. While working in the Secret Intelligence division, Child had a variety of jobs that took her to Washington, D.C., Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and eventually to China. But her most interesting assignment may have been as the assistant to a research team developing shark repellent! The foul-tasting stuff was needed to keep sharks from exploding mines intended for German U-boats. So how in the world did Julia Child end up as the last word on French cuisine?

While in Ceylon, she met fellow OSS employee and New Jersey native Paul Cushing Child. The two were married in 1946, and moved to Paris, two years later, when Paul was given an assignment there by the US State Department. Julia’s hubby was an artist, a poet, and a gourmet, and he introduced her to fine French cuisine — which she repeatedly described as a culinary revelation: “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.”

While in Paris, Julia attended the famous cooking school Le Cordon Bleu, and later studied with several master chefs. She also met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, two French women who were trying to write a French cookbook for American readers. They quickly convinced Julia “the English major” to collaborate with them. That was around 1951, and the three cookbook creators spent the next decade researching and repeatedly testing recipes. Child translated the French into English, and worked to make the recipes detailed and interesting to American cooks. Finally, their book was finished. All they needed to do was find a New York publisher. Piece of cake?

The three authors were told repeatedly that their 726-page manuscript was “too long”! Other objections included: “No one’s interested in preparing gourmet food”; “No one’s buying cookbooks these days”; “If someone wants a recipe, they’ll just tear it out of a magazine”! When a door finally opened, and Houghton-Mifflin signed them to a contract, the editors then rejected the manuscript because it seemed too much like an encyclopedia.

Alfred A. Knopf Company ultimately published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961. It was a critically-acclaimed bestseller, and it’s still in print to this day. More books followed, as well as a long-running television show. And would you believe, the kitchen set, where for years Julia Child cooked up special dishes for her legions of viewers, is now permanently exhibited in the Smithsonian.

So, all her naysayers had to eat crow — and at the end of each episode of The French Chef, Julia would say, “Bon appétit!”

“And the LORD answered me: Write the vision; make it plain…. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; …If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV)

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How to Make Friends and Be POPular (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Why do some people make friends more easily than others? For that matter, why are some people more likable than others? Tough questions. Before we discuss these issues, let’s take a break and pop the top on an ice-cold can of soda.

Did you know that Coca-Cola goes all the way back to 1886? Like a lot of sodas, Coke was initially sold in drug stores, because at the time, people strongly believed that carbonated water was beneficial to health. We doubt nutritionists would agree with this today — but carbonation does have some soothing qualities. Besides being thoroughly refreshing, a cold ginger ale can calm an upset stomach. An icy bottle of Pepsi on a hot summer’s day is sublime. Mountain Dew is a great pick-me-up and is extremely popular these days; but when we were kids, nothing could beat a Coke! “Things go better with Coke” — even if this is the “Pepsi Generation”!  Actually, we now drink Diet Rite. (When we’re not drinking water, God’s health beverage.) Every calorie counts, you know.

All these drinks have one thing in common. They’re bubbly. Effervescent. Fizzy. Most people enjoy bubbly drinks. The fizz adds pizzazz. One thing’s for sure, when the fizz is gone, the soda is far less palatable. And when cola goes flat … yuck, it’s worse than Kool-Aid. We’d rather do without than drink a flat soda. A can of pop with no pop has far less to offer. Again, those little bubbles tickle our senses. We love the effervescence!

People are like cola. When they’ve lost their effervescence — their enthusiasm, their excitement toward life — when their personality and outlook on the world go flat, they’re far less tolerable. Most of us love to hang out with bubbly people, so bubbly people make friends more easily. They have a sparkling personality that comes from a positive attitude and a contagious enthusiasm.  Such people become very POPular!  When we’re around them, we feel encouraged, uplifted, and invigorated.

On the other hand, the bad attitudes and sour dispositions of people who’ve gone “flat” can be hard to swallow. No one enjoys being around a negative or bitter person. Why would we? Do you have a “woe is me” family member with the ability to rain on your every parade? Have you ever dealt with a coworker who knew any given project was “doomed to failure” before it even got started? Have you ever visited an “all gloom and doom” friend, and afterwards felt like you were ready to commit suicide? “Flat” friends and family are no fun. Their fizz is all gone. All that’s left is the nasty Kool-Aid of their bleak outlook on life — and who wants to drink that?

What’s our point? We need to try and be tolerant of these folks. We often can help lift their spirits. Inject some fizz back into their lives. BUT we don’t want to BE these folks! We want to be POPular (in a good way), bubbly, encouraging, uplifting, crisp, cool and sparkling! Besides being friendly, THAT’S how you really attract people and make friends. But getting back your fizz requires certain steps; and keeping your effervescence requires certain precautions.

You can’t constantly fill your head with negative, pessimistic, gloomy, downer thoughts and ideas if you want to stay bubbly and be a part of the “Pop Culture.” Ever watch a depressing movie and walk out of the theater all depressed? Hey, we’re not asking you to never watch a tear-jerker, or to avoid people with nasty attitudes; but you need to make sure you pour into your life MORE good stuff than bad. Here’s what the Apostle Paul has to say about it: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

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