Julia Child was mad.
“I think the word ‘healthy’ and the word ‘light’ are really kind of meaningless,” the renowned cook told KUOW’s Ross Reynolds in a prescient 1990 interview. “There are no bad or good foods; they are just healthy and unhealthy ways of using them.”
Like steak, she said.
“They're trying to make us believe that steak is unhealthy,” she said. “Steak, as a matter of fact, eaten in moderate quantity, not a great big flap of it, is tremendously nutritious.
“It has iron and vitamins and proteins and it's tremendously healthy food but it has to be eaten in a small quantity.”
Reynolds countered that people were reacting to overindulgence of steak – three or four servings a week.
"I don't know what it's a reaction to,” Child said somewhat impatiently. “I don't know why people have taken it all out on food. They're afraid of something.”
People were afraid of cholesterol, she said, when, on a scale of 1 to 10, smoking and high blood pressure were worse. “Why don’t we talk about some of the very dangerous things such as diabetes, overweight, lack of exercise?”
Child said she worried about the influence of the healthy-eating movement on cooking. Too often, she was being served fish without sauce and salad without dressing. Cooks were becoming terrified of fats, she said, even though fats are crucial for a healthy diet.
Reynolds opened the conversation to callers, including one woman who asked her if she had eaten beefalo, a hybrid between beef and buffalo. Child said she hadn't. But she raved about buffalo.
“I was in Denver the other day, and I tried buffalo, and it was just delicious,” Child said. “This was very rare and very tender. I had prime rib buffalo, and it was very, very good.”
Another woman called to say that several Seattle chefs aimed to keep the sauce but were trying to reduce salts and fats. That riled Child up.
“This fear of salt – a lot of that has to do with people who eat processed food,” she said. She said home cooks should continue to season as they would normally.
“I just had a piece of fish fillet that was just cooked in plain water. It was awful, and you had to put a lot of salt on it to make it taste proper,” she said.
"If the public is sensible and doesn't blanche every time they see a piece of butter, we may get along well,” Child said. “Otherwise I'd rather eat at home.”
She concluded: “These are people who are uninformed and they're going to ruin gastronomy for this country for years to come if they keep up that way.”
Produced for the Web by Isolde Raftery.