Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?

Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004) American chef and writer
“What I’ve Learned: Julia Child,” interview by Mike Sager, Esquire (2001-06)

Reprinted in Brendan Vaughan, Esquire: The Meaning of Life (2004).

This quotation, and variations on it, are (in)famous regarding Child. The earliest version can be found in her public TV show, The French Chef, 1x22 "The Potato Show" (1963-06-29). In that filmed-live episode, a potato pancake flip ends poorly, spilling onto other parts of the range. Child scoops up the spilled bits and puts them back into the pan:

Well, that didn't go very well. See, when I flipped it I didn't have the courage to do it the way I should have. But you can always pick it up, and if you are alone in the kitchen, who is going to see?

In an era before online video, and on such an initially obscure show, variations appeared almost immediately, e.g., in Blake Hunter, "A Tasty Dish," "Educational TV" column, Film News (1964-10), which gave the quote as happening when a potato pancake spilled on a sideboard:

If this happens, just scoop it back into the pan. Remember, you are alone in the kitchen, and nobody can see you.

The story grew in the telling, and eventually was told as her dropping a chicken. Many folk incorrectly recall this as being one of the gags in the (hilarious) 1978 Saturday Night Live skit starring Dan Aykroyd as Child.

Child often pointed to the incident as involving a potato pancake, not a chicken, though as noted, her lamb comment still stands as another hypothetical.

Added on 30-Mar-23 | Last updated 3-Aug-23
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