With the plethora of cookbooks and cooking shows today it is hard to imagine a time when one woman alone was the face of cooking on American television. The host of the public television show, The French Chef, which initially aired from 1963-1973, Julia Child, became an American cooking icon. In 1961, Child and her friends and associates Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, both of France, had co-authored a cookbook of traditional French recipes adapted for Americans. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was an immediate success and Child, the American author, was sought after for book signings and interviews.
I became interested in Julia Child after I saw the movie Julie and Julia. The movie is based on Child’s memoir My Life in France, coauthored with her nephew Alex Prud’homme, and Julie Powell’s memoir Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Powell’s book is focused on her blog The Julie/Julia Project detailing her efforts to cook all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Last year on the centenary of Child’s birth Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz was published. I recently listened to the audiobook, read by Kimberly Farr, who did an excellent job bringing the story of Julia Child to life. Spitz recounts Julia McWilliams’ childhood in Pasadena, her collegiate life at Smith College, her aimless early years of adulthood and her work for the OSS in Asia during World War II. It was during this time that she met Paul Child whom she married in 1946. It was her husband’s assignment to Paris with the Foreign Services that opened up the world of French cooking to Child, an avocation that led to her career as author and television personality. Many other books and television appearances followed.
I cannot think of a biography that I have enjoyed more than Dearie. Julia Child truly had a “Remarkable Life.” I highly recommend. “Bon Appétit.”
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