My Life in France – Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

21 Jun

About a week ago I told you how much I enjoyed learning to cook from Julia Child.  This week I’m going to tell you how much I love reading about Julia Child. 

Paul Child took this picture of him and Julia. They had a big to do each year and made very creative Valentine's Day cards.

This book is a love story.  A tale of Julia, her husband Paul, French cooking and France.  If ever again I consider myself a bit of a hedonist when it comes to food I will remember Julia fondly.  Never have I read such loving portrayals of food written decades after the dishes have been put away.  Her journals and letters must have been chock full of these details.  I cannot imagine even Julia Child remembering the vintage of the bottle of wine she had for almost every dinner.  Or I can but then I recall my penchant for drinking Franzia from the box and I think it can’t be possible.

What I loved most about this story is that Julia started cooking when she was 36.  That means it’s still possible for me to find my calling.  Or to get really good at making omelets.  I’d take either one.  She and her husband Paul were working for the U.S. government when they met.  Eventually they saw that they could build a life together and after marriage Julia thought it was time she learned how to put dinner on the table, especially since they would be living off of Paul’s smallish government salary… in Paris.

See you may have felt sorry for the newly minted housewife Julia there for a minute but then you realize that she’s learning to cook so that she and her husband can eat well in Paris.  I would live off Dinty Moore and Tic Tacs if I was able to live in France.  The fact that Julia taught herself so much and then became determined to learn more is inspiring.  She enrolled in le Cordon Bleu only to find that the course she was in was for beginner housewives, she wanted to be the French Chef.  Soon she would be cooking with men who were working towards running their own restaurant and at the top of her class.

Her work on French cookbooks came by dint of her being friends with someone who was writing one and being an American.  They needed a Yankee voice to explain French dishes and that’s most definitely what Julia had.  She’d worked in newspapers before but this ability to logically and succinctly explain things was a perfect match for “cookbookery” as she called it.  Her husband Paul would work long hours with her taking photos or sketching how a knife should be held or what a certain dish looked like.  His collaboration with her would not end there.

As “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” began to take off Julia took on the challenge of teaching cooking on TV.  Paul would assist in rehearsing where the crew should be.  Such as “move the egg bowl to left counter while J. fries potatoes”.  They were a true team and found many ways to share adventures, big and small.  She credits Paul and his expansive culinary knowledge for her interest in cuisine.  Not just food but food as art.

Julia is inspiring not just for what she was and what she did.  She inspired by enabling others to feel as if they too could turn out a French dish and have it taste as if we had been at le Courdon Bleu with her.  That’s a might big feat even for someone who was 6’2″.  Though I might never be more adventurous than creating my own guacamole recipe there is still the idea that I could turn out something magical in the kitchen because she honestly thought that I could.


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