May 5, 2020 - Written by: Nancy Pollard
Read Time: 4 Minutes Subscribe & Share

Julia Cuvy: A Life Well Lived

With no visitors allowed, Julia Cuvy died alone in a hospital bed in Lyon during the current corona virus lockdown in France. Julia Cuvy did not die from Julia Cuvy at dinnerCovid-19 itself, but from a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. My last conversations were texts through WhatsApp. I sent her pictures of beautiful wreaths on the doors in Old Town, occasional visual jokes from Instagram and snapshots of trips we had taken together.  And what glorious trips they were. We alternated vacations in the US with “Les Trois Js” in France — Julia, along with Jean Claude and Jacqueline Panel.  The Three Js would come to the US one year for a two- or three-week stay and then we would go the following year to France. The Big Apple was thoroughly  and hilariously explored by them, as were Maine, Montana, and New Orleans. Julia was always the trésorier for the trips through France.  We all gave her money, which she kept in a very chic zippered bag. Out of this pool came our funds for gas, wine and food. One of our most memorable moments came in Provence, where Jean Claude filled up a huge container from a rosé wine pump just like in a gas station.  Julia monitored the mounting number of liters and euros and shouted Arrêtes! when she deemed we had enough wine to go on. 


Chocolate, Handbags And Dom Perignon

Nancy Julia Jacqueline at Hospice De BeauneShe had became close friends with Jean Claude and Jacqueline Panel of Chocolaterie Panel which provided divine chocolates and preserves every Christmas to adoring fans at La Cuisine. Julia was part of the équipe at Christmas, wrapping dozens of gift boxes of chocolates amid the chaos that Christmas brings to all retailers and suppliers alike.  I am sure her bows on sleek boxes were the prettiest.  A single woman of great style, always dressed in a conservative but elegant way, she was the only real person I knew who had a Hermes Kelly Bag (originally called a sac à Photo montage of Grace Kelly with Hermes bagdépêches, Julia told me)  and used it.  When she came here, she loved the idea of shopping at Ross Dress For Less. Both she and Jacqueline always found really neat outfits there, and you could hear them laughing in the dressing room and joking with the sales women as they chose what was to be kept and what was not.   Three very painful hip operations never stopped her from visiting museums with us or going through churches to look at medieval stained glass.  She dragged me to the church where Dom Perignon was buried so that we could thank him in prayer for giving us champagne, the only white wine she ever drank, much preferring red. Julia even got me inebriated enough in a restaurant that I sang a French song with my Donald Duck voice (it would never have occurred if I had been sober). Our close friends, Bob Bennett and Kevin Canfield (founding members of Soirée Du Film group) regaled  me with stories about their  delightful visit to Lyon. She treated them to her version of Boeuf Bourgignon (which may have involved some chocolate in the sauce) and took them on a superb tour of Lyon and the surrounding countryside. Although neither Kevin nor Bob knew her well, they too were entranced by Julia’s effervescence and exuberant sense of humor.


A Napkin Trick & Two Recipes

Neither Kevin nor I will ever forget the times in restaurants (and we never knew when it would occur) when Julia and Jacqueline would go through a little series of intricate folds of their napkins and turn them into buxom bikini tops that they strung across their chests. This somewhat grainy video gives you an idea, but it lacks the French exuberance with which Julia and Jacqueline executed this visual joke — thoroughly enjoyed by onlookers.

Julia Cuvy was a physical therapist by training and career, but in her heart she was a marvelous interior decorator and entertainer. I have almost nothing left, not even a photo of her beautiful house and garden, where she introduced us to Cerdon  a bubbly and decidedly red wine that I now drink every summer and toast her. Her secrets for her version of Boeuf Bourgignon are lost, but I  have two recipes that  were totally Julia, classic but a bit earthy and appreciated by all her guests. And as she would advise, C’est très important to follow her instructions exactly. Consider it done, dear Julia.


Julia Cuvy's Squid in Fresh Tomato Sauce
Serves 2
  1. 1 kg (2.2lb) fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced.
  2. 800gr-1kg (3/4-1lb)cleaned squid cut into rings
  3. Olive oil
  4. 2 or 3 small white onions, finely sliced
  5. 2 minced peeled garlic cloves
  6. freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt
  7. pinch of Cayenne pepper
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 3 or 4 large sprigs of thyme
  10. 1/2 liter (a bit over 2 cups) white wine
  11. a bit of cognac or whiskey to flame
  1. Lightly saute the squid rings in some olive oil for just a few minutes.
  2. Remove them from the pan and add the sliced onions and minced garlic
  3. Allow the sliced onions and minced garlic to become translucent and slightly colored over medium heat and then add the squid to the pan.
  4. Flame this in cognac or whiskey and add the tomatoes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste and add the cayenne and herbs
  6. Heat this through for a minute or two and then add the wine.
  7. Allow this to simmer, semi-covered for an hour. at a low heat.
  8. At the end, if you need to reduce sauce, raise heat to medium until you get the desired consistency.
  1. Serve this with rice or pasta, and a salad.
Adapted from Jacqueline Panel
Adapted from Jacqueline Panel
Kitchen Detail
Julia Cuvy's Lentil Salad
This is my go-to lentil salad. It keeps well, can be taken on picnics. Use the green lentils from Le Puy, not other types. Le Puy lentils are grown also in the US.
  1. 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  2. freshly ground pepper & sea salt to taste
  3. 1- medium onion, peeled
  4. 4 - whole cloves
  5. 2 Tablespoon (30ml) - finely chopped parsley
  6. 1/2 cup (118ml)- good quality Red Wine Vinegar
  7. 2 tbs (30ml) - Dijon mustard
  8. 1/2 cups(118ml) Grapeseed Oil (do not use olive or canola oil)
  9. 1lb- (454gr) dried Le Puy lentils
  10. 1 large peeled carrot
  11. 1 large bay leaf
  12. 2 large finely sliced shallots
  1. Pierce the onion with a 4-6 cloves.
  2. Put the lentils in a pot of cold water with the clove-pierced onion, a bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and a peeled carrot.
  3. Once the water has come to a boil, cook for about 15 minutes. (test at 12 minutes for doneness; the lentils must not be mushy.)
  4. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water.
  5. Combine the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Start whisking, gradually adding the oil until you get a good emulsion.
  6. Add the vinaigrette to the lentils along with a few finely diced shallots and finely chopped parsley.(The lentils absorb a lot of the vinaigrette, so add to your taste.)
  1. This salad keeps indefinitely on the road; just store in a cold place at night.
  2. You may want to add more vinaigrette from time to time.
  3. My favorite wine vinegars are from Martin Pouret.
Kitchen Detail

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Kitchen Detail and get the newest post in your inbox, plus exclusive KD Reader discounts on must have products and services.

Share Us on Social Media:
5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

What a lovely tribute to your friend.

Stephanie Gorenflo
4 years ago

She “loved ALL the men, but never just one”! I have a whole photo album of our second trip to France, including her beautiful, welcoming home, and many of our wonderful adventures. Will work on sending some to you. Lovely post. Thanks, Nance! Love you both! (Thanks to Kate Harlin.).

Nancy Schell
4 years ago

Sounds like a wonderful and fun person to have known and what a wonderful tribute to her–I’m sure she would have liked it!

4 years ago

Bonjour je suis la niece de Julia. Je suis très émue par votre témoignage. Je sais les merveilleux moments que vous avez passé ensemble et comme elle vous aimait. Un immense merci pour cette hommage