23 Nov Cooking Food with Julia
That was said by Julia Child, the woman who came to be known for her love of good food, cooking, and who wasn’t afraid to be generous with butter. The millennial generation’s exposure to Julia Child may have come from watching Meryl Streep’s portrayal of her in the 2009 film Julie & Julia (which she nailed, by the way). Her personality was refreshing and frank, her voice distinctive, and her talent and skill were unquestioned in the culinary world.
But actually, when she married Paul Child, she’s reported to have said, “I can barely boil an egg.” And, apparently Paul stated at some point, “I married her in spite of her cooking.” It was in fact because of Paul that she was introduced to fine food when they were in France, an experience that awakened something in her that would become her lifelong passion.
She was born in California to John and Julia McWilliams, a girl who was spunky, social, and energetic. According to her brother, John McWilliams, their father was relatively stern and “thought that children should be seen and not heard.” That didn’t seem to squash Julia’s character, however, or her zest for life.
At 6 feet 2 inches tall, her height was just one of her distinguishing qualities. Julia and her two siblings were all over 6 feet, and their mother preferred to say: “My only claim to fame is that I have produced 18.5 feet of children.” She was athletic and played a number of sports, including basketball, which was the sport her mother had played for Smith College years earlier.
She met Paul Child when they were both overseas working for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), but they didn’t marry until they were back in the states. Both would enjoy 48 years of marriage, and while they were never blessed with children, they were fiercely devoted to each other and deeply in love.
It was while they lived in Paris that Julia became a culinary student at Le Cordon Bleu, and out of 12 students in her class, she was the only female. That adventure at the school paved the way for her life’s work: preparing and eating good food, and working to make it reachable to others, too.
She started to focus on a cookbook with a couple of other women, her job being to make the recipes workable for American cooks. After years of assessing recipes and making adjustments, an 800-page manuscript was sent for publishing, but it was declined more than once before it lastly hit the press in 1961 under the title of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was a progress from the beginning and is still published today. If a list like that existed, it would be considered part of a culinary cannon of classic cookbooks.
Her beloved Paul became ill following some strokes and gradually had to be put in an assisted living home. She visited him faithfully, and if she was taking a trip and wasn’t able to go and see him face to face, she would always call. He passed away in 1994, the man who had championed her work and passion, walking by her side for almost half a century.
Aside from cooking, one of the qualities that exude from Julia is a love of learning and zest for life. Regardless of aging, she continued to life with fervor, fly fishing when she was almost 80 in Norway, carrying on her involvement with the food industry, receiving honorary degrees from Harvard and other universities, and writing more books. And though she took fine cooking to the American table through her work, she reportedly also appreciated hotdogs at a ball game, and was a fan of French fries from McDonald’s.
Her history is so charming because it’s so accessible; she began with virtually no cooking experience, only to end up being regarded as an authority in the culinary world. She went to culinary school and then taught classes and was passionate about sharing what she loved with others. For those people who love to cook, her story is both inspiring and endearing.
Cooking tours are a good way to learn new techniques and see them modeled by those that have mastered them. It’s also exciting to be introduced to new flavors and combinations, pairing spices that you’ve never come up with before, or watching a demonstration on a culinary method that has always intimidated you. Taking groups of people to examine the food this area is known for is pleasure for us. And, similar to Julia, developing your food knowledge may stir up a culinary passion you’ve never known before!
The information in this article derived from the following sources: