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My French Life: Julia Child – the French Chef

Julia Child's kitchen at The Smithsonian CC Flickr davidboeke
Julia Child’s kitchen at The Smithsonian

I discovered Julia Child just a few months ago after several decades of being completely unaware of her existence.  From this you may deduce I am not an American.  I say this as, since I first heard of her I’ve discovered that she is in fact an institution and a legend to Americans.

I came across a film called Julie and Julia and as the summary mentioned France and cooking – two of the subjects most close to my heart, I settled down to watch it not expecting too much and was totally charmed. The film is based on the true story of a young New Yorker, Julie Powell, who set out to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Childs’ cookbook in 365 days and blog the results.  The film follows her attempts interspersed with snippets from the life of Julia Child who spent several years in France with her husband in his role as a Government diplomat.

The film prompted me to buy the book “My Life in France” by Julia Child and read more about the woman who became a legend and appears to have changed American attitudes to French food – forever.

In France, she studied at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, then began work on “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with two French colleagues and this led to their collaboration on “cookerybookery”.

The result was a legendary cook book with classic French recipes hitherto unknown or at least misunderstood in America, being outlined step by step and with American style measurements. This then led to a TV show “The French Chef” which first aired in 1963 and… the Julia Child phenomenon.

From reading the book you get a real feel for the woman as well as the chef, following her burgeoning awakening to what French food is about to her desire to learn how to replicate it for herself.  She was not awed by the famous French chefs who were teachers or by anyone else for that matter.  She was not scared to try anything, even the most complicated dish.  She was by nature a sharing person. She was a perfectionist and very determined. She was a bit bonkers!

I shall now endeavour to get the cook book and try some recipes for myself – not à la Julie Powell I hasten to add but simply because I am really intrigued now and having had lessons from my neighbours to learn French cuisine it will be fun and interesting to compare.  Also I will be able to understand everything which isn’t always the case when I’m trying to keep up with non English-speaker 84 year old M-T or strongly accented Monsieur Le Boulanger!

A bientôt
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