Julia Child’s Discourse on Post-Modernism and Pumpkin Ravioli – with Butter and Sage (her 109th birthday anniversary)


….for more pasta recipes: The Pasta Papers

Everyone felt something warm for Julia C., maybe almost literally everyone. She became and remains somehow sort of always there, perfectly, like a late September day, a few milky clouds in the breeze, maybe 23 degrees celsius, early afternoon. Maybe something was on your mind before but then you look up once you’re outside and don’t take it, whatever it was, heavily anymore. At the same it isn’t a lazy day, not at all… roll up your sleeves and get to it, but with intent. That was and is Julia C.  Anyway.

The real recipe follows Julia’s discourse below

Julia Child’s Discourse on Post-Modernism and Ricotta Ravioli with Butter and Sage

“Non-cooks think its silly to invest 2 hours’ work in 2 minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so to is the ballet.” – Julia Child

…how can you not love her?

Julia Child

Serves 3

Good evening. Tonight I want to talk to you about an artistic, expressional trend that really took hold in Europe after the second world war but never quite penetrated deeply in the United States: Post- Modernism. Now what you have to remember is that both the first and second world wars were fought primarily on European soil, whereas we here in America, though we were very patriotic and gung-ho about the war, never truly suffered the brunt of war, its most terrible, devastating effects. And that was very important because, in a way, it left us whole, left us integral.

What I mean is that it left our beliefs relatively unchanged. We kept that ‘let’s go’ attitude about how we look at the world, what we can do, what any individual can do. In France and Italy and really all over the continent, they didn’t have that luxury. They literally had to rebuild from nothing, had seen their cities and people ripped into rubble. They had to deal with the reality that their belief in individual reason had brought them to the brink of total self-destruction, had left them dis-integrated. So of course they began to question those beliefs, how they saw themselves, their history, and the world. Character-generated works of art and literature, once the dominant theme, had to give more space to the contexts those characters existed in, and how those contexts influenced behavior. Form and context became legitimate competitors of the individual, and questions became as important as answers. Beckett, Ionesco, Camus, Satre, Queneau and Calvino, among others, began to expand dramatic and literary forms, writing what was once impossible to write in an attempt to match artistic form with the reality and the effects of what they had witnessed, or at least to deal with them.


They were building on an artistic tradition that, in fact, had already begun to expand form and question what it meant to exist, and to create. I am speaking of the modernists, of course, from Pirandello to Joyce. But the modernists still had a sense of something beneath them, even if they sensed that solidity below might be illusory. Because of that, their relativism was contained, in a way, by the real world. Post-modernists instead had to deal with a present void, the horrors of what had happened, a nothingness beneath that threatened to devour our precarious existence above. So lightness, ‘leggerezza’, as the Italians say, became an important theme in post-modernism, in contrast to ‘heavy’, certain characters and contexts. If the world itself could disappear, what is it we live in? Couldn’t the world itself then depend on who was creating it? And how many ways are there to look at it, to create it? An infinity? And if the world’s reality is precarious, isn’t our own? Don’t we, to, depend on who creates us?

Yet post-modernists did not remain pessimistic. In the later works of Calvino, for example, and in others, such as Salman Rushdie, that infinite relativism becomes a road to infinite possibility. Maybe, after all, there is something beneath the void itself, only we can not understand it. At least not yet. Indeed, you might say they began looking for post-post-modernism. But that is a subject for another discourse. It’s almost dinnertime.

Simply deep-fry some clean, dry sage for about 35 seconds then it place onto a paper towel to drain, and salt immediately. Flavor 2 pats of unsalted butter with a few sage leaves for a few minutes in a pan on low heat. Remove the sage. Boil the ravioli or other egg pasta in salted water until its ready, then pour the noodles into pan with the flavored butter and add the rest of the fresh butter. Once plated, crumple some of the deep-fried sage over top, salt, pepper, add Parmigiano to taste and decorate with a few leaves of the crispy sage.


So, how many ways are there to create a world? How many ways can you cook a dish of pasta? The answer isn’t so important. What’s important is that the pasta is good. Bon appetite.

The recipe:


For the Ravioli:
400 grams of flour
4 eggs
a pinch of salt

For the filling:
100 grams of Amaretti (ground to powder)
100 grams of Parmesan (grated)
a couple pinches of fresh grated nutmeg
pepper to taste
salt to taste
600 grams of fresh pumpkin meat in pieces
100 grams of diced pear Mostarda (of Mantova)*
One grated lemon peal
*(optional, but it adds a lot)

For the Condiment:

4 pats of butter
3-4 sage leafs
Deep-fried sage
Salt, pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano to taste

Serves 4-6

    Something she likely ate and liked, and then made, not French but… these noted pumpkin ravioli – just don’t call them such if you’re in the regions of Italy where they’re part of the culture: every subtle change in noodle form corresponds to a different name – taste like that day, clean but rigorous flavors, simple but not too so.

   Clean, wash and dry the pumpkin, then wrap in aluminum foil and bake in a hot oven (180 degrees Celsius) for an hour. Once tender, remove from the oven and let it cool, then use a blender to mix it into a paste. Add the nutmeg and pear mostarda, mix with a wooden spoon, then the lemon rind, Parmesan and a pinch of salt and let the whole rest for an hour. Work the eggs and flour and a pinch of salt into a dough on a large, flat surface, (use a bowl at first if you need to.) Once done, let it rest 30 minutes, then flatten out the dough into a long rectangle (wide enough to include both halves of the ravioli,) and divide it into two equal sides. On one of the two halves place small, marble-sized balls of the filling about 5 cm apart. Then layer the other half of the dough on top to cover, closing the sides well by brushing over water. With a rolling dough knife, divide the ravioli into rough 4 cm sided individual pieces. Lightly flour a flat surface and let the ravioli rest on top until it’s time to boil.

   Clean a handful of sage leaves well, then set them aside to dry. Make sure the sage has dried completely before deep-frying it in vegetable oil for about 30 seconds. Remove and place the leaves on a paper towel to drain, and salt immediately. Flavor 2-3 pats of butter with fresh sage leaves for 5 minutes or so in a pan on low heat. Remove the sage. Boil the pumpkin ravioli or other egg pasta in salted water until its ready, then pour the noodles into pan with the flavored butter and add the rest of the fresh butter. Once plated, crumple some of the deep-fried sage over top, salt, pepper and add Parmigiano to taste, and decorate with a few whole leaves of the crispy sage. Serve with a chilled Sauvignon.

link: Julia’s Marco Polo spaghetti – JCmarcopolo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tonno Bisaccio © Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
Translate »