There is a particular pleasure which comes when a reader starts reading a book on the exact day that book began. This happened last year on May 1, and again today.
Julia Child's first letter in As Always, Julia was written sixty years ago today. Her great, long friendship with Avis DeVoto began with a letter Julia wrote to Avis' husband in response to a magazine piece he had written.
Dear Mr. De Voto:
Your able diatribe against the beautiful-beautiful-rust-proof-edge-proof American kitchen knife so went to my heart that I cannot refrain from sending you this nice little French model as a token of my appreciation.
For the past three years here, I've had the good fortune to be able to spend my life studying French cooking and have amassed a most satisfyingly professional batterie de cuisine, including a gamut of excellent French knives. When we were in the USA last summer I picked up four beautiful-beautiful American stainless steel housewives knives, of different makes, to try them out. But I have been quite unable to sharpen them satisfactorily. I am therefore wondering if the average American housewife really wants a sharp knife in the kitchen, as many of my compatriots accuse me resentfully: "But your knives are so sharp! They're dangerous!"
If you are in need of some good professional knives, I would be very pleased to get some for you, and the prices are modest:
This one is about 70¢ (280 francs)
8-inch blade, about $2.40
7-inch flexible fish filleter, about $1.00
Mailed from here Fourth Class, one or two at a time, there seems to be no duty to pay at your end.
We do enjoy you in Harper's!
(Mrs. Paul Child)
Because Bernard DeVoto was very busy, his wife Avis wrote back to Julia instead of her husband, and from such a pleasant little fan letter came a lifetime of letters and friendship between the two women.
My friend Les is reading As Always, Julia as her year-long book. Les' mother, Tia read it like this:
I read As Always, Julia as if the letters were arriving at intervals. I kept it by my spot on the sofa where I picked it up during the days over a period of four months and a bit.Isn't that delightful? I haven't decided just how I will read these letters. Maybe I'll read them all at once, or maybe a few at a time.