- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

America’s cook

“[Julia] Child took wary Americans by the hand some 50 years ago and led them through an unexplored landscape of edible French words. Dressed in the style of a third-grade teacher, a glass of red sometimes tilting dangerously in her hand, she made calves brains appetizing and kitchen mishaps forgivable on her PBS program, ‘The French Chef.’

“Technically, Ms. Child, who died last week at age 92, is classified more often as a ‘cook’ than as a ‘chef.’ She was an amateur, who entered marriage as a culinary virgin. … She learned to cook as a bride, to please her worldly gourmand of a husband, an American diplomat 10 years her senior.

“Ms. Child used a puritan’s industry … to an end that was anything but puritanical. The aim was the satisfaction of lust — for red meat, sugar, eggs, good wine and butter. … Just as she worked carefully toward her life’s goals, she lavished methodical attention on each step of a recipe, building to its climax — the eating of it.”

Amy Finnerty, writing on “Julia Child’s Lessons in Living,” Tuesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Classic perfection

The memorization and recitation of the classic utterances of poets and statesmen form part of a tradition of learning that stretches back to classical antiquity, when the Greeks discovered that words and sounds — and the rhythmic patterns by which they were bound together in poetry — awakened the mind and shaped character. They made poetry the foundation of their pedagogy. …

In every epoch of Western history we find educators insisting that their pupils serve an apprenticeship in the work of masters of poetry and rhetoric. Saint Augustine, as a schoolboy in North Africa in the fourth century, studied only a very few Latin classics in school, principally Virgil’s Aeneid, great chunks of which he learned by heart. But within its ‘narrow limits,’ the historian Peter Brown wrote in his life of the saint, the education the young Augustine received was ‘perfectionist.’ ‘Every word, every turn of phrase of these few classics,’ Brown observed, ‘was significant and the student saw this.’ The ‘aim was to measure up to the timeless perfection of the ancient classic.’”

Michael Knox Beran, writing on “In Defense of Memorization,” in the summer issue of City Journal

A wife’s suffering

I have counseled several gay men who married women only to reveal to them the truth of their sexuality years into the marriage and after children had been born. In every case, the news was not only devastating to the wives in question, but created lasting anger, even hatred. When a man outs himself as gay, the person who suffers the most is his wife. The husband is often treated as a hero, courageously liberating himself from a lie imposed on him by a hypocritical and intolerant society. But his wife is treated as a naive dupe, and in the case of the wife of a successful politician like [New Jersey Gov.] James McGreevey, she is seen as cold and calculating, prepared to remain in a fraudulent marriage in order to share power.

But the truth is that these women suffer enormously. I have had many women crying in my office as they related the pain of discovering that they could never be attractive to their husbands, and how that horrible fact undermined their very identity as women. One woman told me that after her husband had revealed [his homosexuality] to her … she had thought that night of killing herself.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, writing on “The tragedy of the McGreevey marriage,” Saturday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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