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Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 12:11 am

The kitchen is closed: IT’s food writer remembered

JULIANNE GLATZ Sept. 11, 1953 - Feb. 4, 2016

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GLATZ FAMILY

 

Julianne Glatz was many things.

Food writer extraordinaire for Illinois Times. A mother of three. A singer talented enough that she performed in Carnegie Hall. She was even the French connection.

“She smuggled in non-pasteurized cheese from France,” recalls David Radwine, chef at the governor’s mansion who was close enough that Julianne got in touch and shared her prize, impossible to get in the United States, upon her return from a European trip years ago. “Somehow, she got it past customs. It was great.”

Julianne died in her sleep and was found the morning of Feb. 4. The cause of death isn’t known, but she was short of breath the day before she died, and her husband, Peter, suspects a pulmonary embolism. She was 62.

A lifelong Springfield resident, Julianne had many friends and admirers – a memorial at the Glatz home last Sunday was so packed that late-arriving visitors were forced to park a quarter-mile away. The memories are rich and happy.

Julianne’s love of food sprang from her family’s 20-acre farm near Toronto Road, just off Interstate 55. The land where corn and soybeans are now grown produced beets and peppers and tomatoes and other vegetables sold at farmers markets long before organic farming became cool.

During her days at University of Illinois, she was “an Ayn-Rand-Atlas-Shrugged libertarian,” her husband recalls. The two met in the spring of their freshmen year, when she came back to campus from Springfield with homemade chicken and noodles and fruit pies that she shared with her classmates. It was not an auspicious start to a relationship. Hours after the feast, Peter became ill, as did everyone else who had partaken of Julianne’s food. She hadn’t done anything wrong, says Peter, who kept a roll of toilet paper close at hand for a couple days.

Julianne, left, with her family, which figured prominently in her cooking and her writing.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GLATZ FAMILY

“After all the bland dorm food we’d been eating, it was a shock to the system,” he recalls. “I ate her food on Sunday. By Thursday, I decided that she was the one. … By the next Sunday, we were engaged.”

A 43-year marriage followed the one-week courtship. Peter, an art major who became a dentist, said that he was drawn to Julianne by her mind.

“She was very worldly,” Peter recalls. “She was a music major, I was wanting to become knowledgeable and was uneducated and naïve. She was a source of education to me.”

While Peter attended dental school in Chicago, Julianne became a stay-at-home mom. She landed a spot on the Chicago Symphony chorus and traveled extensively to perform, including several concerts in Carnegie Hall, her husband recalls.

Julianne at the table in the middle of her kitchen, directing all the action.
PHOTO BY DUSTY RHODES

 



Cooking was the couple’s recreation on weekends. Peter always made the salad, occasionally a side dish and inevitably cleaned up afterward, which could be a substantial chore. Julianne was adventurous in the kitchen. At one point, the head of a goat occupied a spot in the couple’s freezer, but she never did get around to making the Mexican dish she had planned.

“She would undertake huge projects without any regard for tidiness and organization,” says Peter, who can’t recall a dish she made that flopped. “She was fearless. … There may have been some things that never quite worked out, but I’d have to think a long time to figure out what they were. … She was always questioning why a thing was being done one way or another. She cooked intuitively.”

Michael Higgins, owner of Maldaner’s restaurant in downtown Springfield, remembers discussions about food and restaurants during summers outside at the farm, sitting with Julianne and her mother and husband, with a dog usually close by. Julianne, he recalls, wasn’t afraid to share her thoughts on cooking, and debates could be lively.

“How dark to make the roux – it could be a point of heated discussion,” Higgins recalls. “She had her opinions, I had my opinions. I always enjoyed talking to her.”

Her husband recalls that Julianne was fond of Julia Child and old Food Network programs that were more about teaching people to cook than staging culinary game shows. In grocery stores, she would give impromptu lessons on vegetables when she saw confused shoppers in the produce section.

After taking courses at the Culinary Institute of America in California, Glatz began teaching cooking classes in her home in 2002. She started writing for Illinois Times in 2006 after former staff writer Dusty Rhodes, a friend of one of Julianne’s daughters, suggested that she’d be a good fit.

Her column became a must-read, and restaurants she mentioned braced for crowds after publication. She insisted that she wasn’t a chef, just someone with a bit of professional training. She wrote about food as much as recipes, warning of the risks of genetically modified food and telling readers that there is no substitute for local asparagus. She extolled the virtues of Chicago-style hotdogs as well as chirashi-zushi sushi salad with seared tuna.

“It was a real gift for her to be able to have the column,” Peter Glatz said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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