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Published on May 17th, 2010 | by Yellow Magpie

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Julia Child: Passionate About Cooking

Eccentric, larger-than-life and extremely charismatic, one woman revolutionised cooking in the United States. Becoming America’s culinary sweetheart by bringing the exotic and sophisticated French cuisine into homes across the USA, Julia Child became one of the first celebrity chefs of the television age.

Making cooking fun and enjoyable with her unconventional and no nonsense approach, she made creating some of the most exquisite dishes simple and easy.

Early Life

Julia Child was born Julia McWilliams, in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. Julia received her education at the prestigious Katherine Branson School for Girls after which she went on to study at the Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

After her graduation she moved to New York where she went to work as a copywriter in the advertising department of W&J Sloan a home furnishings company.

Julia Child Giving A Cooking Demonstration

Patriotic Espionage

When World War Two broke out Julia, volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) a government intelligence agency, where she worked for the head of OSS, Gen William Donovan.

In 1944 she was posted to Kandy, Ceylon, where she was responsible for registering, and communicating huge volumes of highly classified documents to OSS undercover stations in Asia.

She was later posted to China where she received the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service as head of the Registry of the OSS Secretaria. While she was in China she met and fell in love with Paul Cushing Child, who was also an OSS employee, when the war was over the couple returned to America and got married in September 1946.

Julia Child Photo By Elsa Dorfman

Paul Child had lived in Paris for a while living as an artist and poet and while there he developed a love of sophisticated food and fine wine. Under his influence Julia also became interested in food and wine.

In 1948 her husband was sent to Paris to work in the U.S Information Service, and Julia went with him. Julia often recalled her first meal in Paris, which consisted of oysters, sole meuniere and wine, she described it as ‘opening up the sour and spirit for me’.

French Cuisine

While she was in Paris she began to take a great interest in French cuisine and enrolled for a six month course in the world famous Cordon Bleu cooking school where she took private lessons from one of their master chefs.

When she left the school Julia and two other students Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck decided to start up their own cooking school. Together they wanted to bring French cuisine to America. The new school was called L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes.

Julia, Louisette and Simone also published a cookbook titled Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One. The book was a terrific success. Julia was back living in Massachusetts and was in a position to be able to promote the book on the Boston public broadcasting station, during which she prepared an omelette, the public loved her down to earth manner and humour and soon after Julia was invited to present her own cookery series.

Julia Child In 1989

Julia The TV Presenter

The new series called The French Chef premiered on WGBH in 1962 and was an instant success. The series helped to transform the way Americans related to food.  Soon after The French Chef was syndicated to 96 stations throughout America. Julia received The George Foster Peabody Award in 1964 and an Emmy Award in 1966. The programme also became the first programme to be captioned for the deaf.

America’s Favourite Chef

Julia became more and more successful regularly appearing on Good Morning, America. Her other television programmes included Julia Child and CompanyJulia Child and More Company and Dinner at Julia’s. She also published more bestselling books, Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 2 (Paperback) in partnership with Simone Beck, another book From Julia Child’s Kitchen was illustrated with her husband’s photographs.

In 1981, Julia founded the Educational American Institution of Wine & Food, which became the American Center For Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, California, with vintners Robert Mondavi and Richard Graff. The aim of the institution was to promote and advance the appreciation of fine wine.

Julia Child's Kitchen At The Natonal Museum Of American History Photo By RadioFan at en.wikipedia

Paul’s Death and Retirement

Her husband Paul died in 1994 and in 2001 Julia moved into a retirement community in Santa Barbara, California.

On August 13, 2004, Julia died from kidney failure.

Julia’s last book was published posthumously  in 2006, the book which was autobiographical was titled My Life in France and was written with her husband’s great nephew Alex Prudhomme.

Julia Child And Accusations Of Homophobia

Some people have claimed that Julia Child was homophobic. Author Laura Shapiro in her book, Julia Child: A Life, (see below for link) quotes Julia Child as saying:

She often used the term pedal or pedalo—French slang for a homosexual—draping it with condescension, pity, and disapproval. “I had my hair permanented at E. Arden’s, using the same pedalo I had before (I wish all the men in OUR profession in the USA were not pedals!),”

However, it must also be noted that one of Julia Child’s most adored friends was American chef and writer, James Beard who happened to be gay.

Julia Child was also actively involved with AIDS benefits at a time when AIDS was almost exclusively associated with homosexuals.

Julie Powell

In 2002 a woman called Julie Powell began to blog her experiences cooking each of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Blog later became a memoir, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, the paperback version of the memoir was retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.

The screenplay was written by Nora Ephron, for the film Julie & Julia , which is currently on release starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child.


Further Reading

If you are interested in reading more of Julia Child’s books on cookery, check out these Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One and Volume Two (hardcover set) Fortieth Anniversary Edition. For some interesting DVDs, featuring Julia Child, try Julia Child – The French Chef or The French Chef With Julia Child 2

However, if you would let to know a bit more about the woman behind the image one of the better books is Laura Shapiro’s Julia Child: A Life.

Another book by Julie Powell is Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One and Two and Laura Shapiro’s Julia Child: A Life.

Julia Child: The French ChefThe French Chef With Julia Child 2 and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession here.

Amazon.ca
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One and Two and Laura Shapiro’s Julia Child: A Life.

Julia Child: The French ChefThe French Chef With Julia Child 2 and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession from here.

Amazon.de
For Germany:  Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One and Volume Two and Laura Shapiro’s Julia Child: A Life.

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession.

Amazon.fr
For France: Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One and Volume Two and Laura Shapiro’s Julia Child: A Life.

Julia Child: The French ChefThe French Chef With Julia Child 2 and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession.


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