This year I made Nicoise Salad. Here is Julia's recipe. I followed it as to ingredients, but altered quantities freely, on the grounds of availability and personal taste (less tuna, more tomato). It was one of the best I've had, probably because so many of the vegetables were fresh, just picked from the garden--the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the beans, the basil I put in the vinaigrette, the shallots.
When I was thinking about Julia and what to make, I tried to remember when and what I first knew about her. I couldn't pin it down, but an early Julia connection was her appearance in Desperately Seeking Susan, an '80s Madonna movie. Rosanna Arquette is a frustrated, ignored wife of a swimming pool salesman--can I be remembering that correctly? Her husband comes home and wants to know what his girls have been up to--he means Rosanna and Julia, who is cooking on the television in their kitchen, as Rosanna tries to keep up with her furious whisking. The idea of it was that Rosanna didn't have a life or any friends, so she had to look to Julia for companionship (I guess)--and of course, she goes out and meets Madonna and has adventures (does she become a stripper?) and finds love, etc.
But that scene also had this cozy friendly feeling--Julia cooking on the tv, and Rosanna in her own kitchen, that I liked. When I came across Julia again, I wanted to get in on that (without having to meet Madonna, etc.) and our culinary relationship was born.
This Nicoise Salad was also good in the way that something can be when you make one serving, just for yourself, on the spur of the moment. I read the word "Nicoise" (which is a lovely word), I let the ingredients drift through my mind--olives, tomatoes, beans. I found myself going to the refrigerator as if in a dream, and dreaming, brought it all together: lunch!