Julia Child is marking her 90th birthday this month, and there is no shortage of celebrations - from COPIA, the food and wine center she helped establish in Napa, Calif., to the Smithsonian Institution, where her Cambridge kitchen was unveiled as an official exhibit Monday.
After all, Child has done more than anyone to teach Americans how to celebrate the joys of the table.
She was no cook when she married Paul Child after World War II. But his artistic bent and love of fine food and drink inspired her to learn, and his diplomatic assignments in France gave her a chance to study with great chefs.
Paul let Julia cook, but while she perfected one dish after another, he would create appealing cocktails, often recording the recipes and taking particular enjoyment in attaching fanciful names to them.
Paul died several years ago, but two of his recipes are reprinted in the August issue of Gourmet - Rumbrosia and Himalaya Sunrise, essentially a gin martini with maraschino cherry juice and a couple of cherries.
Child says her husband was especially fond of rum drinks, as is evident in the complex recipe for Rumbrosia, which calls for the careful combination of rum with several other ingredients, including jasmine tea, lime juice, Cointreau, raspberry syrup, Angostura bitters, orange bitters and ice.
Speaking from her home in California, Child says she loves to serve cocktails, but a chronic leg condition now prevents her from drinking alcohol. So she no longer indulges in her own favorite cocktail, but she is happy to share it with readers.
She has dubbed it a "reverse martini" - dry white vermouth topped with a splash of gin and garnished with lemon zest.
"It always smells nicely of gin when you pick it up," she says. And another nice thing - "You can have two."
These days, she drinks a nonalcoholic cocktail of tonic water and bitters. She calls it "the Angostura."
Either drink would be a happy-birthday salute to a woman who has shown Americans how to celebrate the joys of good food and drink.
Makes 1 serving
4 or 5 ice cubes
dry white vermouth to taste
splash of gin (less than a tablespoon)
strip of lemon zest
Place the ice cubes in a red (or other large) wine glass and fill the glass with vermouth. Add the gin and garnish with lemon zest.
Makes 1 serving
4 to 5 ice cubes
tonic water to taste
5 drops of Angostura bitters
Place ice cubes in red (or other large) wine glass. Fill with tonic water. Add bitters.
-- Julia Child