Learning from Julia Child

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Does the unwavering allegiance to fresh vegetables by chefs on food shows lead you to believe that frozen vegetables are the devil’s doing? Sara Moulton, who is the host of PBS’ “Sara’s Weeknight Meals,” can understand if you’re swayed by that allegiance but urges you to think differently. She attributes her perspective in part to her mentor and friend, chef Julia Child.

“Julia was a pragmatist,” Moulton tells Consumers Digest. True, Child had high standards about cooking, but “she was very down-to-earth.

“I think that a lot of foodies have become so elitist and so snobby about what you can and cannot eat, that it all has to be organic and locally produced.” Those people, she says, ignore the consumers who don’t have easy access to organic and locally produced vegetables or can’t afford their generally premium prices. Furthermore, she doesn’t hesitate to use frozen vegetables. Although she doesn’t like the texture that frozen green beans or carrots have, she has no qualms about them otherwise. She reaches for frozen corn, lima beans and peas on a regular basis, as long as they don’t have additives. Although she concedes that they’ll never have the depth of flavor that freshly picked versions have, she believes that, because they are blanched right after they’re harvested, their flavor is captured and, thus, they’re tastier than the vegetables that you get at a grocery store that lose their original flavor as days pass.

Moulton says Child thought about these things, and that rubbed off on her. When she left the restaurant world to focus more on the home cook, Moulton switched gears from having the belief that every meal had to be prepared fresh from scratch. “I had somewhat gotten swept up in, ‘Oh, it’s local, it’s organic, blah, blah, blah.’ Then I said, ‘It’s not affordable to so much of the population to shop that way.’

“I’m tired of all the snobbery,” Moulton says. “Food should be sharing and should be for everybody.”