The Julia McArthur Gastronomic Star System


Meet my little sister, Julia Moss McArthur, a jolt of joy in a dreary world. She’s beaming about the traditional chocolate orange she pulled out of her Christmas stocking. She spends most of her day beaming, being helpful, making fun of her elders and giving us positive feedback.  To finish a dreary task and hear Julie declare “Good little worker!” is almost as good as being awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. If one of us dresses up and looks spiffy, Julie will let out a wolf whistle. She oogles attractive men, like John, my cousin Cort or our friend Michael Histed, simpers, tosses back her hair and calls them “My Sveetie.”

At five o’clock sharp she nukes a bag of popcorn and distributes it in two baskets to accompany drinks.She’s the one who reports if toilet paper or dishwasher detergent is running low, and keeps on the case until it’s replaced. She can take care of Number One: On the kitchen calendar she got away with blacking out every entry that read “Julie, Dentist” for months. You’ve figured out from her pic that she’s Down Syndrome, and she’s not great at reading, writing or figgering, but for years, at my mother’s insistence, she’d do a daily weigh-in, and write the number on the calendar. So faithful was she that’s she’s write “NO BAT” until someone replaced the batteries on the scales.

Julie’s a gourmande — her table manners are neat and sure as she picks her way through a lobster (in Julia language”mobster”)dinner. Oysters on the half shell are one of her gustatory passions; she slurped her way through two dozen before I’d found my lemon wedge. Fish, fowl, game, caviar, Cheetos, brussel sprouts,stinky cheese tendon, cotton candy,pate, tofu — I have no doubt that if Julie were handed a raw sea urchin and a spoon she’d dig right in.

And she’d pronounce it “Wishious!”

“Wishious!” — always proclaimed with kissed fingertips a la Maurice Chevalier, is the Julie equivalent of a Michelin star. She’s enchantingly generous with one star. If you’ve stepped up your game, you’ll get a “Wishious!” followed by her second star — a Namaste.

Then there’s the dinner when you’ve wandered into Julie’s Bocuse/Achatz territory, the third star, the ultimate acclaim. First, an enthusiastic “Wishious!”, the kissed fingertips flung into the air. A few more appreciative bites wins you a beaming bow and a Namaste. If you’ve sourced your ingredients, cooked like a poet, and pushed up your presentation, Julia will tap her lips with her napkin, get to her feet, give you a standing ovation and yell “Bravo!”

It’s not as if other family members are stingy with praise — hey, we’re a family of cooks and eaters. But there is nothing, nothing like the unaffected, innocent and informed standing O from Julia. I’ m considering taking my sister on the road and visiting all my kitchen buddies. I’ll observe her reactions to your fab meals and compile the Julia Guide. As Julie herself would say: “No wowwies!” You’ll bask in that standing O within four meals, and you’ll beam and bow, just as I do.



Filed under Food, Free, History, Holidays, Home

7 responses to “The Julia McArthur Gastronomic Star System

  1. sparrowgrass

    I would cook for her any day!!

  2. How very dear a Sweetpea of your own, Maggie! She so reminds me of my childhood friend Betsy, whose manners were exactly those and whose social calendar must have equalled Jackie O’s, for her name was in the little local paper several times a week.

    And you know by now that she has a friend in Chris, whose dinner is always interrupted by a most-likely-obnoxious simper of my own, asking, “How IS everything?” His immediate reply is always “A-Wichious!.”

    And how very precious a single star from such an educated palate and gracious guest!

  3. Bev

    I love her already!! A shining star we all wish we had in our lives. I would cook my best for her…and hope for praise!

  4. kim shook

    I, like Rachel, sometimes fish for compliments (though I can’t imagine our friend needing to) – what a lovely thing to have Julie at the table pronouncing success on my hard work! I like enthusiasm at the table! And I’d like her to black out my dental appointments, too!

  5. Yay! Mom got a standing O! I’m sure those cream puffs were divine.

  6. I adore a guest who eats and appreciates and who couldn’t help but be jealous of someone with the good cheer and obvious common sense (I mean, going to the dentist? ugh!) of your wonderful sister? She is just more proof that “wonderful and interesting” are both qualities that run in your family!

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