Master the French Omelet the Julia Child Way
This time last year, we were making omelets in Julia Child’s kitchen.
“Swirl, jerk, flip!” we chanted the three steps of Child’s 20-second omelet technique, inhaling the aroma of melting butter in the kitchen of the cook’s former Provençal vacation home.
“It’s ready. Flip!” our instructor prompted as my brightly yolked eggs coagulated before me. I held the handle of the piping-hot pan with my palm facing up, as Child instructs in The French Chef, and maneuvered my omelet onto a warm plate.
In La Pitchoune, the name of her cottage tucked in the peaceful hills of Châteauneuf de Grasse in the south of France, Child cooked and shared meals with M.F.K. Fisher, James Beard, and other figures who helped introduce French cuisine to American home cooks in the 1970s.
Now affectionately called La Peetch, the house is available as a vacation rental, wedding venue, or — as my mom, grandmother, and I enjoyed it last April — the Courageous Cooking School, where up to six guests can spend a week living in Child’s enchanting former home, cooking anything from bouillabaisse to boeuf Bourguignon in a relaxed, recipe- and rules-free setting. There is also plenty of time to enjoy the pool, garden, and neighboring donkey with French wine, cheese, and a good book in hand.
For us, day one of the Courageous Cooking School started with omelets. Before we entered the kitchen, we had a lecture of sorts in the living room: the omelet episode of Child’s cooking show, The French Chef.
“How about dinner in half a minute?” Child practically sings, a pan of eggs bubbling before her. She cheerfully describes the standard omelet as flat, French, and “very lovely and tender and soft.”
From the time the eggs hit the hot buttered pan, it really does take only 20 seconds to cook.
The dish is simple in composition; the only ingredients are butter, two to three eggs (any…