As part of a series called 'Female Force,' a new comic book tells Julia Child's story
Anthony Bourdain may be the most well-known chef comic book writer, but Julia Child has him beat when it comes to starring in them.
The woman who reinvented American cooking has been auto-tuned, portrayed by Meryl Streep, and immortalized in American cooking history. But now, Child will also be portrayed via cartoon illustrations in a new comic book from Bluewater Productions.
"The latest issue of Female Force will transport you back in time, through Child's days in Paris where she learned to cook at Le Cordon Bleu, as she wrote her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and to her days as a popular television host," the press release says.
The 32-page story will be sold in print and digitally and can be ordered online. "I've always had a fondness for Julia Child with her strange look and gentle giant demeanor. I found her life very interesting and certainly a worthy foot note in history," writer Michael Troy said.
As for the Female Force series, which features prominent female role models, Bluewater reports that Martha Stewart's story will soon be featured in a comic book. Things just got interesting.
Julia Child: Fun Facts for Foodies
Julia Child, circa 1978. Credit: ©James Scherer for WGBH, Boston.
Watching Julie & Julia, the Nora Ephron film staring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, might inspire you to try Julia Child’s recipes yourself. To mark what would have been Child’s 106th birthday on August 15, 2018, PBS celebrates with offering her original series, The French Chef with Julia Child to stream with the member benefit Passport. Fifty or so episodes will be available at any one time, and will be updated in a rotating feast of episode selections.
Julia Child (1912-2004) is fondly remembered for introducing French cuisine to American home cooks through her television series – beginning with WGBH’s The French Chef in 1963 – and through her several cookbooks. Child was a pioneer in public television’s long tradition of cooking programs, revolutionizing the way America cooks, eats and thinks about food. From 1963 to 1973, The French Chef broadcast 300 episodes from Child’s kitchen into American homes.
10 Fussing Over Blog Views
As soon as Julie gets her blog up we find her constantly analyzing the possibility of whether or not people are reading her blog. She is fixated on receiving approval from other people--and not just people close to her, but strangers.
Julia Child, on the other hand, was somebody who did what she wanted because she wanted to do it, and if somebody didn't approve, it was of no consequence to her. She was a woman who did not take herself too seriously, something Julie Powell definitely doesn't seem to be.
‘Julie & Julia’ Is Two Half Loaves
Meryl Streep as Julia Child in “Julie & Julia”
Before and after everything else, Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia” gives us Meryl Streep in a grand comic performance—a fearless actress playing the fearless Julia Child in post-World War II Paris, where she’s in the process of transforming herself from an embassy wife into a world-famous apostle of French cuisine. That ought to be enough for one movie, and there’s more: handsome settings (the City of Light regaining its prewar lustrousness), midlife romance (Stanley Tucci is Julia’s charmingly ardent husband, Paul) and foodie porn (brie, chocolate cream pie and beurre blanc sauce in lascivious close-ups). Strangely, though, there isn’t enough for one movie, and the first clue to why lurks in the title’s ampersand, a sort of linguistic duct tape holding together two stories that never really function as one.
The Julie story, intercut with Julia’s, takes place in New York half a century later, and involves a real-life blogger, Julie Powell, who is played by Amy Adams. A bright woman doing dull office work in the depressing aftermath of 9/11, Julie sets out to cook, in the space of one year, all 524 recipes in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” the landmark book that Julia wrote with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Julie’s intention is to write a blog about her culinary adventures, but the blog leads to a popular book of her own, published in 2005, that provides half of the film’s structure, though much less than half its substance.
The parallels are intriguing at first. Two women, happily married and blissfully obsessed by food, follow their bliss as they seek to define themselves in love and work. (Ms. Ephron’s alter ego in “Heartburn” was a food writer played by Ms. Streep.) And the early scenes in Paris are so enjoyable that you’re set to go along with whatever may come. (The cinematographer was Stephen Goldblatt.) Ms. Streep starts off with huge and affectionate energy—the unworldly warble of Julia’s birdcall voice precedes the first glimpse of her towering physique—and never relents. (To help the star measure up to her character, who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall, the movie surrounds Ms. Streep with shorter actors and scaled-down props. One scene, in which Julia’s feet overflow a Parisian bed, looks like “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” in reverse.)
The remarkable thing about the Julia segments, given Ms. Streep’s daring flirtations with caricature, is how full and affecting they prove to be. Yes, Julia’s windmill arms are outlandish so is her awkward, stentorian French and her religious belief in the miracle of butter. Yet she’s an endearing figure, a woman who digests the life around her with enormous gusto while she’s breaking the gender barrier at a Cordon Bleu cooking class or, much later, after fame has struck, digests with incredulity her husband’s advice that she ought to be on TV. Mr. Tucci’s Paul plays a subordinate role in the story, but his dry wit and calm love are perfect counterpoints to the intensity of Julia’s enthusiasms. (The film includes a bit of Dan Aykroyd’s deathless send-up of Julia Child on “Saturday Night Live.”)
The Julie segments, though, are pallid by comparison—dollops of margarine that barely hint at butter. They’re agreeable enough, at least until Julie and her husband Eric (Chris Messina) fall into banal wrangling over the emotional cost of her new career. And Ms. Adams is appealing, as always. (“Are you back?” Julie asks with lovely guilelessness when Eric reappears after briefly leaving her. “Please be back.”) Yet those segments aren’t very interesting, despite a pervasive sense of calculation—Julie’s plan for her blog sounds like a movie treatment—so they grow constantly more intrusive to the end, which is notable only for its clumsiness. The joys of the Julia parts are cumulative, and addictive. The Julie parts keep forcing us to go cold turkey.
Review: 'Julie and Julia'
In this summer-soufflé of a movie, Meryl Streep's rendering of Julia Child is a bravura comic performance.
You don't have to know who Julia Child is in order to appreciate Meryl Streep's bravura comic performance in writer-director Nora Ephron's "Julie and Julia," but it helps. This actress who, for most of her career, specialized in roles of the utmost gravitas has, in recent years, unleashed her inner goofball – and we're all the better for it.
I'm thinking not so much of "Mamma Mia!" which was less a performance than a vaudeville turn, but, rather, "Adaptation" and "A Prairie Home Companion." Comedy makes Streep seem ecstatically down to earth.
Julia Child, on the other hand, always came across as larger than life. At six-feet, two-inches and gawky, she didn't so much stand as teeter. With a stentorian voice pitched falsetto-high except for occasional runs down the octave, Child was perhaps the least likely star in the history of television. Although I didn't care about cooking, I used to watch her show "The French Chef" as a kid because I got such a kick out of her, especially when she would accidentally drop onto the floor some ingredient, like a piece of veal, and then, bemused, briskly wipe it off and plunk it into the pan.
Ephron's movie is really two movies: The first, and by far the best, is drawn from Child's posthumously completed 2006 memoir "My Life in France" and is all about how, at 36, stationed in France in 1948 with her US Foreign Service employee husband, Paul (the excellent Stanley Tucci), Child found her calling, becoming the first woman to graduate from the snooty, male-dominated Cordon Bleu before going on to co-write the classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" – the book that yanked America out of the processed food era (for a time anyway, alas).
The other film, set in 2002, is about the real-life Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who works a boring, stressful job for an organization involved in rebuilding the World Trade Center. Then she has brainstorm. In her off hours she will change her life by cooking all 524 of the recipes in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 365 days, and blog about her experiences. A blog pioneer, she turns her writings into a book, "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously," proving once again that the way to a publisher's heart is through its stomach. (As the film shows, the Monitor interviewed Ms. Powell in 2003, when she was about halfway through Ms. Child's book.)
Ephron intercuts these two women's lives in fairly simpleminded fashion. The idea, I suppose, is that Julia (as I will now refer to the great lady) is the avatar and Julie the acolyte. They are linked across space and time. Both women turn their lives around through cooking, and both have adoring husbands who reap the bliss, not to mention the boeuf bourguignon.
There's something blandly, but also pushily, inspirational about all this, especially the Julie parts. It's like being put through a candy-colored motivational seminar. Change your life! Find something you love to do and do it!
The bliss factor in this movie is so high that Ephron has to work hard, particularly with Julie, to get any conflict going. Julie's husband Eric (Chris Messina), who edits an archaeology magazine, is by any measure a saint, and so, of course, there must be a scene where he protests "I am not a saint." But except for the ever-present bottle of Tums on his nightstand, he seems to be in hog heaven throughout. It's never really explained how this couple, on a meager income, can afford all these fancy meals, but at least Ephron didn't take the low road and turn Eric into a bank robber or something. (Messina, according to the press notes, was chosen for the role in part because he "simply looked good chewing a mouthful of Lobster Thermidor.")
Amy Adams is a charming performer, but her role, not to mention her performance, just doesn't measure up to Streep's. I wish Ephron had jettisoned the Julie stuff altogether and made "Julia" instead (especially since the two women never meet). On the other hand, what actress in her right mind would want to go up against Streep in all her goony glory? (Well, Jane Lynch, in a wonderful cameo as Julia's sky-high sister, does.) One can make a case, though I wouldn't, that what Streep is doing here is more impersonation than performance. But who cares about such fine distinctions when the work is so enjoyable?
Ephron does one very difficult thing very well: She makes absolutely believable a genuinely happy marriage. They're so happy together that Ephron drags in Julia's childlessness and Paul's McCarthy-era political woes as party poopers, but her heart's not in it. In their smitten silliness, Julia and Paul are made for each other in the same way that Shakespearean lovers (and clowns) sometimes are. There are many things wrong with "Julie and Julia" but, if you're looking to get hitched, you won't find a better booster. Just make sure that one of you can cook. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality.)
Dad, son with autism collaborate on comic book series to help son better understand the world
NEW YORK - Apples don’t fall far from trees, especially in the case of Led and Jake Bradshaw.
Like so many fathers, Led Bradshaw has the pleasure of seeing his son take an interest in his life-long obsession: superheroes and comic books.
While growing up in Brooklyn, Led said his peers talked about becoming firefighters, police officers and astronauts — but he just wanted to draw cartoons.
As fate would have it, he would do just that once his son Jake was diagnosed with autism — a condition on a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by challenges in verbal and non-verbal communication, impaired social skills, speech and repetitive behaviors.
Led said Jake was diagnosed when he was about 3 and a half years old. He noticed Jake would play more by himself than with other children and he wouldn’t return smiles when interacting with adults.
He said Jake was nonresponsive to his name, making his parents question his hearing.
"It was one of those things where we wanted to check his hearing, but we knew that he could hear," Led said. "He could hear things that we couldn’t. He was just concentrating on other things."
Dad figured Jake would eventually grow out of it, but then the autism diagnosis came.
Led Bradshaw admits he didn't know very much about autism before his son Jake was diagnosed. But he quickly learned he could relate to Jake through art therapy. (Source: Led Bradshaw/ Jetpulse Comics
Admittedly, he didn’t know much about the condition at all before that. His best point of reference was Dustin Hoffman’s performance in the 1988 film "Rain Man."
"I remember doing an awful lot of research," Led said. "One of the things I wanted to find out was what exactly autism is. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. I just wanted to find the best way to help him."
That’s where art therapy came into the picture. His research taught him that autistic children can learn to communicate and understand their emotions through art therapy exercises.
"As an artist, I figured it was a win, so I would incorporate art therapy exercises into his daily routine," Led explained. "So for about 25 to 30 minutes a day, we would practice different drawing exercises. One would be identifying his emotions or drawing with different colors — expressing emotions through color."
There was a superhero exercise meant to highlight Jake's positive traits — which is when the foundation of Jetpulse Comics emerged. (Source: Led Bradshaw/Jetpulse Comics)
Jetpulse Comics take place in the Jetpulse Universe and follow the adventures of Jake Jetpulse, a young boy drawn in the likeness of Jake Bradshaw who uses autism as his superpower.
"The Jetpulse Universe is entirely Jake&aposs imagination," Led said. "So, the wonderful thing about the story is that it all comes from him."
Jake has collected a plethora of superhero costumes over the years. But when Jake played dress-up, Led said he wasn’t pretending to be major characters like Superman or Spider-Man. He was portraying himself as a superhero.
"In the beginning, I would take the voice recorder on my phone and I would record him as he’s playing — hearing these characters, engaging him and asking him questions like who these characters are, what are their special powers," Led recalled. "I would learn all of this while he was playing, and it was a way that we connected — in that sense."
Dad took all of that information and started piecing it together. Before long, the Jetpulse Universe was born.
The supporting characters are based on people Jake has either met or imagined in real life. Marrz the Troll is based on a nightmare Jake once had.
Marrz the Troll is based on a nightmare Jake once had. (Source: Led Bradshaw/Jetpulse Comics)
"By him drawing his nightmare and naming it, it was giving him his power back so he wouldn’t be afraid," Led explained.
Julia the Super Genius derives from a real-life lesson Jake had to learn about sharing. Led said Jake had an issue with another student regarding a toy. In the comic book, he crafted a story where Marrz meets Julia and steals her lunchbox.
Julia the Super Genius derives from a real-life lesson Jake had to learn about sharing. (Source: Led Bradshaw/Jetpulse Comics)
She ultimately forgives him and ends up sharing her food with him, befriending Marrz in the process.
"This is one of the ways I introduce certain things into the world with Jake, like social things, like sharing or bullying," Led said. "I can translate that into these superhero stories and help him understand in that superhero way, in that way in which we communicate."
Jake said if he could have one superpower, he𠆝 chose to shoot electric laser beams from his eyes — clearly inspired by Superman’s heat vision.
But in just one conversation, it won’t take long to realize Jake’s already got abilities just like his comic book counterpart. Autism isn’t his disability. It’s his superpower.
Jake Bradshaw shares his message about autism
Jake Bradshaw doesn't look at his autism as a disability. It's his superpower.
"It’s OK if you have autism. You’re still unique and you can do anything because you’re still blessed, no matter what — if you’re low-level, high-level. Nothing is going to get in your way. Be happy," Jake declared as his father looked on with immeasurable pride.
Led struggled to come up with words to match the wisdom Jake had just shared. But in his parting words, he pleaded with neurotypicals — people not on the autism spectrum — to just give autistic people a chance in life.
"I would love for neurotypicals to understand that autism does not define an individual," he stressed. "It does not limit anyone. It does not mean that they can’t do anything or do it well. People on the autism spectrum are exceptional people who perceive the world just a little differently than we do. And that’s perfectly OK. This is the reason I wanted to create the website."
The Jake Jetpulse website provides access to all of the Bradshaws’ comic books, videos, workbooks, apparel and even face masks — as well as educational resources and a forum for people on and off the autism spectrum.
Always Order Dessert
I wasn't sure what to expect from Julie & Julia , Nora Ephron's lively film based on the book of the same name. The book chronicles a year in the life of Julie Powell, a bored temp who decides to cook and blog her way through all 534 recipes in Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking . in just one year. The movie version took the book further by paring Powell's story with Julia Child's in a bit of a flip-flop parallel structure that I originally expected to hate, but didn't.
On paper it seemed perfect: a Nora Ephron movie about food set in Paris and New York with a clearly (even from just the previews) brilliant portrayal of Julia Child?! How could that possibly go wrong? I love Nora Ephron and I love movies that have to do with food and cooking, and though I knew very little about Julia, I figured it's hard to mess up a story about learning to cook in Paris.
The part I was a little iffy about-- the part everyone seemed a little iffy about --was the Julie Powell side of the story. I read the book about a year ago and I enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn't one of my favorites. I found myself skipping over parts and bristling over the harshness of her language. Nothing about the book ever made me want to run to the kitchen to cook, the way other food memoirs have. In fact, I remember finishing the book feeling exhausted and sweaty and, more than anything, just glad that it was over.
What it came down to is that I never felt a passion for the food itself in Julie's words. It seems ironic given the subject, but really what she had was an obsession and a determination. It was as if she made a choice and decided to stick with it come hell, but had no true love for it. She battled her recipes. She tackled them the way people tackle packing up books for a big move or tiling the bathroom floor. As incredible as her feat was, it failed to seduce me. And when it comes to food, I want to be seduced.
The movie was a different beast entirely. It opens in post World War II Paris, where Julia Child (played by the ever-brilliant Meryl Streep) is trying to figure out what to do with herself while her husband Paul is stationed at the US Embassy. Talking it over with Paul (Stanley Tucci) she determines that the only thing she really loves to do (and the only thing she is really any good at) is eat. Julia signs up for a tough French culinary course where she warbles and charms and fearlessly cooks her way to the top of the class (and beyond).
The Queens side of the story is somewhat less fanciful. Accordion music doesn't waft through the air in Long Island City, where Julie Powell and her husband live in a cramped studio over a pizza parlor. This isn't the charming New York City of Ephron's You've Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally . In fact, the city barely exists here at all, save for a few sweaty subway rides and the shots of Ground Zero outside Julie's office window.
The New York story takes place almost entirely in Julie's tiny kitchen where she diligently attacks lobsters and melts copious sticks of butter with the determination of a soldier, interspersed with her regular tantrums over poorly-trussed chickens and slippery aspic.
The eating is less pretty than at the Parisian dinner parties, but this part I actually liked. I relished watching Eric Messina, who plays Julie's ever-supportive husband, shove large spoonfuls of cake and entire slices of bruschetta in his mouth. It was that kind of real, honest, big-mouth eating that happens in home kitchens and tiny dining tables where the plates might be chipped and the trucks roll by all throughout dinner, but it’s no matter because the food is really, really good.
Other critics have said they thought the Julie story wrested time from Julia’s, but I enjoyed the modern contrast. Had the two stories been turned into individual films, I doubt that I would have been so drawn to either of them. What I found most intriguing, was the way that Ephron rewrote Julie as a much softer and likable person (all the whining and weird, bushy hair aside). While I actually liked the movie-Julie much better than the book version, I question whether someone with the temperament of the girl in the film could have actually accomplished such a task. I think one would need the fiery harshness of the real-life version to actually get through it.
I also thought it odd that neither of the characters gained any weight throughout the course of the story, even though that was a constant theme in the book—and one with which the real Julie Powell still admits to struggling. At one point, upon seeing Eric Messina shove another handful of cake in his mouth, my own boyfriend, who is very aware of the reality of living with a food blogger who constantly cooks and serves him delicious things, leaned over to me and asked “well why doesn’t he gain any weight?” Even though there were points where movie-Julie complained that she was “getting fat,” she could have just as well been complaining about being a giant green elephant, since either claim would have been equally absurd. I couldn't help think about those wonderful scenes in the Bridget Jones movies where her mood and the events in her life are actually mirrored in the pounds that come on and off her bottom. It would have been fun to see a bit of that realism injected into this movie, too.
As a food blogger with dreams of bigger things, I couldn't help being absolutely enchanted with the scene where a profile by the New York Times' Amanda Hesser causes Julie's phone to explode with calls from reporters, publishing companies, and literary agents. It was several years ago, when the food blog market was much less saturated, but I couldn't help but stare wide-eyed and think "Damn! I want that!"
Aside from the "book deal porn," one of the most lust-inducing scenes in the movie was the one where Julia walks around a cookery shop with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, casually picking up and dropping breathtakingly gorgeous copper pots into her shopping basket the same way one might randomly grab an apple at the supermarket. I was drooling over her gorgeous collection of shiny copper cookware and those perfectly outlined peg boards that Paul lovingly assembled for their Cambridge kitchen. “Can you make me one of those?” I whispered to Eugene when I saw them.
Despite all the warnings, we made the mistake of not having dinner before the movie. When it ended (two hours and change later) we rushed out of the theater and walked straight up Broadway to the nearest French bistro, where we quickly ordered warm goat cheese over frissee, duck pate, hanger steak in a red wine shallot sauce, garlic frites, and lots and lots of French bread and butter. At the table we talked about the film, and I was surprised that my boyfriend actually liked it we never agree on movies so this was quite the event. Like me, he loved Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia the best. Once the bread was gone, the waitress came back to ask if we’d like to see the dessert menu. I nearly laughed as I dove for the menu. We chose the chocolate fondue, which is not technically French, but I can’t imagine Julia ever objecting to a dessert that requires you dip delicious things in hot, melted chocolate. Can you?
My Life in France
I did not grow up on Julia Child. I’m too young to have watched her TV show, and my mom wasn’t the type to own any of her cookbooks (we stuck to mostly Italian recipes handed down from my dad’s mom and ranch-style cooking- or, if we were unlucky, my British nanny’s “traditional” English dishes she insisted we try). I barely knew who she was before I started cooking a few years ago. I admit that I wasn’t really interested in her until the recent movie Julie and Julia, which definitely made me wan I did not grow up on Julia Child. I’m too young to have watched her TV show, and my mom wasn’t the type to own any of her cookbooks (we stuck to mostly Italian recipes handed down from my dad’s mom and ranch-style cooking- or, if we were unlucky, my British nanny’s “traditional” English dishes she insisted we try). I barely knew who she was before I started cooking a few years ago. I admit that I wasn’t really interested in her until the recent movie Julie and Julia, which definitely made me want to know more. What can I say? Meryl Streep’s powers are infinite.
I say this just so you’re aware that I don’t have any childhood memories that mean that this book is illuminated in a shiny, impenetrable blanket of nostalgia (not that there is anything wrong with those blankets. I have them for other things! Just not for this). Nonetheless, I really liked this book. I don’t want to overstate this. The book is what it says it is, and you should sign up for it because you would like to read about what Julia Child did in France, what came of her trip in France, the writing of French cookbooks, and how she got started as The French Chef. There is food, and a lot of it. Everything from incredibly detailed memories of menus she ate or cooked for people in France in 1950, to explanations of her experiments with translating French foods to the American market to the trials and tribulations of publishing her cookbook. So far, so expected. And, frankly, so good. She is excellent at describing a sense memory of taste so that even if you’re not quite sure what a dish is, you’re very sure that you want to eat it.
The unexpected part, which I loved, was Julia’s personal transformation. I don’t necessarily mean the inspirational tale of finding happiness in going native in a foreign country that inspired a thousand imitators of the Under the Tuscan Sun variety. I meant the other side of the story, her prickly growth as a person. The way these stories are told (and it should be noted that they are written by her great-nephew, though with her approval), her very distinctive voice seems to express not only the sort of warmth and charm that drew people to her, but also the other woman hiding behind that. I really identified with that other woman that she seemed embarrassed to talk about too much. She was the girl who was smart and restless enough to long for more than the slot that life had lined up for her (housewife in unthinking Republican Pasadena), but, so it seemed, with a self-esteem low enough that she didn’t think herself as smart as the artsy, literate people that she longed to be around (like her husband). I could relate to that- I've been that girl. Forever in-between in your own mind, not good enough for what you want, but knowing you need more than what would be acceptable. It was fascinating to hear her talk about politics of the time period (and this was a surprisingly political book), whether French or American- and then stop herself with one of her patented sweet exclamations (“Phooey!”, “Whew!”)- as if she was suddenly self-conscious of talking about something that she was not an expert about and didn’t want people to think she was getting above herself or something. She was extremely self-aware about her limits, too. There was a wonderful passage from when she was about 40 or so when she was arguing with a man of conservative opinions when she realized that she had “emotions instead of opinions,” which was why she couldn’t express herself very well. She didn’t come out and say it, but it seemed implied that she was still a young girl rebelling emotionally against her Republican father- which had seemed to her sufficient opinion until that point. She immediately resolved to educate herself and read, with Paul, a wide assortment of French and American newspapers. How many people are willing to admit that kind of ignorance and take on such a deep project of self-improvement at that age? In my experience, that seems to be about the time where people start to get set in their ways and are all, “Oh well, too late not to suck at life now!”
Once she had found her new passion, she also became the most amazingly hard worker. She spent months perfecting a mayonnaise recipe that no one had ever written down, and then had to find a way to translate it to an American market that has ingredients that make for a completely different chemistry. She was the first person to write down a recipe for French bread in English, and it took her over 200 pounds of flour to get it right. She wrote to scientists who worked with Hershey’s to get a demonstration of the chemical reactions of chocolate. It was the most amazing thing- like she finally found a little niche that she could make herself have enough self-confidence to succeed in, despite her doubts, and suddenly we find out that she’s probably way smarter than the people she’s been writing about in awe the entire book, whether chefs or otherwise. She eats this amazing meal when she first arrives in France that starts her on this journey towards her ultimate career as a French chef, and about halfway through the book (and twenty years later), she goes out to a restaurant and has another amazing meal- but instead of reacting in awe and worshiping the magic of the French character, she guesses, accurately, everything that is in the dish and goes home and reproduces it almost exactly, and it is just as good as the lady in her restaurant who has been making this dish since the dawn of time. The way she talks about her obsession with these details of why food works is still almost…defensive, like she had to explain it to someone a half-century later, when she's been proven right about having done it over and over again. It’s so true- once the insecure girl who is too tall, too smart, too something- always that girl, successful or not.
Ultimately, you love her because she always brings things back to this place of happiness and, “oh well, the show must go on!” no matter what- but the way she told the stories and negotiated herself to that place was very realistic. This was not an unrelenting “always look on the bright side of life,” montage. There were difficult people in her life, difficult spots in her marriage, difficult moments in her career- the fact that she still remembers verbatim quotes and fights from forty years earlier is telling- and she’s clear about it when she doesn’t like something or someone and why. She doesn’t have an American sense of everything will turn out all right in the end, but rather this very French tant pis acceptance that shit happens and life is shit and oh well, wade through it like a big girl. She doesn’t try to deny anything or erase it or obsess about appearing perfect when she wasn’t- which is something I find irritating about American self-help books and TV fantasies. Her philosophy about serving your food even if it comes out bad and not apologizing for is sort of the epitome of this rejection of the hide your dirty laundry ideals of the mid-century. She’s perfectly frank about her fights with Paul Child, her problems with her co-authors on the book, her difficulties with her Republican father, her failures in the kitchen and on her TV show. It isn’t in the exhibitionist way that you see so often these days either. She’s a good girl, but she won’t let herself be walked all over- she is going to have her say and that’s just fair. I don’t know if I am doing a very good job describing this voice, but believe me when I say that it is as captivating in print as it is on television.
All in all, a surprisingly down to earth book from a classy lady who was much more complicated than I thought she was. Come for the food, stay for the voice of the woman telling you about it- and don’t let her talk herself down! She’s worth the price of admission and more.
Oh, how I love and adore this book. It&aposs one of the best I&aposve read lately, combining as it does my love of France, Julia, and food in one funny, touching package. Julia Child was such a unique, eccentric, brilliant woman, and I&aposm always inspired when I realize that she struggled along at loose ends for years before finding her true passion and calling.
Her marriage to Paul Child is beautifully portrayed in the book. He was quite a worldly, erudite man, and very forward-thinking for his time in th Oh, how I love and adore this book. It's one of the best I've read lately, combining as it does my love of France, Julia, and food in one funny, touching package. Julia Child was such a unique, eccentric, brilliant woman, and I'm always inspired when I realize that she struggled along at loose ends for years before finding her true passion and calling.
Her marriage to Paul Child is beautifully portrayed in the book. He was quite a worldly, erudite man, and very forward-thinking for his time in the way he nurtured and supported Julia's talent and career. He was very much a driving force behind her success, but he always made sure she was the one who got to shine. They lived a fascinating life even before her career began, however, living all over the world while Paul was a government official. WWII Asia, post-war Europe, the McCarthy witch hunt -- there's a lot more than just cooking stories in the book.
The cooking stories are great, however. I loved her description of her seminal first meal in France, the one that began her obsession with French cuisine. She really does credit that one meal with being the start of everything that was to follow, from her training at the Cordon Bleu, to the formation of L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to the three of them setting about writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The amount of work that they, Julia especially, put into researching and writing the cookbook is another inspiration. The woman was not averse to hard work, that's for sure.
I really can't say enough about My Life in France. I absolutely loved reading it, and it made me adore Julia even more than before. She really was a treasure. . more
The Book Report: Truth in advertising had no greater champion than Julia Child. Her book is called exactly and precisely what it is: The narrative of her life in France. She begins her book on November 3, 1948, with the Child family landing at Le Havre, getting into their gigantic Buick station wagon, and motoring off across northern France towards Paris. They stop at thirty-six-year-old native Californian Mrs. Child&aposs first French restaurant, La Couronne, where her husband Rating: 3.875* of five
The Book Report: Truth in advertising had no greater champion than Julia Child. Her book is called exactly and precisely what it is: The narrative of her life in France. She begins her book on November 3, 1948, with the Child family landing at Le Havre, getting into their gigantic Buick station wagon, and motoring off across northern France towards Paris. They stop at thirty-six-year-old native Californian Mrs. Child's first French restaurant, La Couronne, where her husband Paul (already fluent in French from his first stint living there more than 20 years before) consults with M. Dorin, the maitre d', and decides the young marrieds (relatively speaking, as he's 46 by then) will have a sole meuniere with a glass of wine! I mean! A nice Republican-raised gal from Pasadena, California, drinking wine with lunch! Who heard of this?! Mais certainement not Mme. Child, nee McWilliams!
It was the beginning of a life-long love affair between Julia Child and la belle France, and Julia Child and la cuisine Francaise. It led to several books, several TV series, and a long, happy life spent teaching, teaching, teaching. Mme. Child had found her metier, at close to forty, in a day and time where living past sixty-five was ** considered to be ancient. In the process, the person she became changed the American, and possibly the world as a result, culture surrounding food. Yet Julia Child wrote this book with her husband's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, who tells us in his brief Foreword that getting his garrulous old relative to open up about the feelings and secrets that make up the majority of any human life. His degree of success was formidable, given the generational and gender-induced reticence he fought against to extract the juicy bits from her.
Bravo, M. Prud'homme, et merci bien par tout le faire.
My Review: Julia Child was a fixture around our house when I was young. I got the TV-watching habits I carry with me to this good day at a tender age, and part of the formative process was The French Chef. My mother didn't like Mrs. Child much. She was a fan of M.F.K. Fisher's food work, which wasn't in sympathy with Mrs. Child's careful and precise measuring and nice and accurate timing. Mama was a feast-maker, not a dinner-preparer, and that's why she watched Julia Child programs.
I learned about enthusiastic appreciation of food from my mother and Mrs. Child. I was never a picky eater, and only rejected a few foods. (I still hate corn on the cob.) It always seemed like the ladies were having so much fun making these weird dishes! It made sense to me that it would be fun to eat them, and so it proved to be.
In reading this memoir, I immersed myself in the flow of Child's later-life awakening to the joy of food and the sheer exhilaration of preparing special and delicious and carefully thought-out meals for one's loved ones. While I understand the co-author's challenge in balancing the need to afford the famous personality privacy against the buying public's desire to know the dirt, I can only lament that Prud'homme either didn't or couldn't press Child on the topic of her childlessness. I suspect burying herself in research and in obsessive experimentation was a means of assuaging her sadness at not being a mother. She was, or at least she is painted in this book as being, a very nurturing person, and given the prevailing attitudes of the era, it is unlikely that this absence did not cause her pangs of regret. I would have liked to see some exploration of that, mostly because I think glittering surfaces (which this book limns in loving detail) are even more beautiful when seen with shadows. It's like sterling silver flatware: When dipped into a cleaning bath as opposed to hand-polished, it's true that all the tarnish comes off, but all the character does too, and the pattern is flat and blah for lack of a bit of dark contrast that is left by the more labor-intensive hand polishing method.
The delight of the book was in Child's almost orgasmic recollections of the foods and wines she and her dearly beloved husband Paul Child ate and drank across the years. In the course of learning to cook the haute bourgeoise cuisine that she made famous in her native land, Child came alive to the joys and thrills of sight, smell, and taste in a way that only truly delicious food can cause a person to become. It was the positive counterpoint to her manifold frustrations in collaborative cook-bookery. The travails of preparing the Magnum Opus that is Mastering the Art of French Cooking simply don't do enough to make the author come off the page and join me in my reading chair. I rate books based on this type of measure, this degree of ability to enfold and immerse me in the narrative and the emotional reality of the tale being told. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I wasn't swept into it and away to France circa 1950, and that was what I came to the read expecting to happen. In fact, when I saw the film partially based on this book, Julie & Julia, I was completely swept away and eager to read the source material.
In the end, I got more out of watching Meryl Streep enact Julia Child than I did reading Julia Child reporting herself. I was disappointed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. . more
I didn&apost know anything about Julia Child apart from having heard her name and that she was 6&apos tall until the book Julie and Julia. I read that and whereas I didn&apost think much of Julie at all (I think she should go back to blogging, a book&aposs a bit much for her) I was curious about Julia.
The book is beautifully written by her nephew Paul Prud&aposhomme and illustrated with many photographs from her talented ex-diplomat husband Paul. Its a lovely story of a life through cooking and inspired by France a I didn't know anything about Julia Child apart from having heard her name and that she was 6' tall until the book Julie and Julia. I read that and whereas I didn't think much of Julie at all (I think she should go back to blogging, a book's a bit much for her) I was curious about Julia.
The book is beautifully written by her nephew Paul Prud'homme and illustrated with many photographs from her talented ex-diplomat husband Paul. Its a lovely story of a life through cooking and inspired by France and full of surprises that you wouldn't expect for someone of her monied, patrician background.
One one of the Goodreads groups I belong to, where everyone besides me is American and, it seems strongly Republican, the book Julie and Julia got many negative comments owing to Julie's total disrespect of Republicans and not being respectful enough of the construction of a memorial to 9-ll (I didn't feel that, I thought she was just pissed off with her job, but I'm not an American and there may have been nuances I missed). Needless to say, I don't think that group would enjoy My Life in France either - Julia Child is fiercely anti-Republican and critical of many aspects of American politics which she sees as hypocritical. This causes if not a rift in the family, then her father's coldness and uninterest in her life and husband, as he saw anything less than full enthusiasm for all things Republican (and racist, anti-academic, anti-semitic and xenophobic) to be a betrayal by her of his and his friends' lives and the cultural millieu he had brought her up in. Julia's politics were important to her and she studied assidiously so that she could hold up her end in dinner-table debates with her more knowledgeable friends, often over one of her wonderfully-cooked meals.
The story of how she learned to cook and the various places she and Paul lived in, is beautifully told without either undue self-praise or false modesty. She had a lovely personality, a burning drive to educate people as to how good food (French food) could be and why it was worth the time and effort to make it, and attracted a rich variety of friends whose only link seemed to be they really, really liked food. But it was just as interesting viewing American politics and France through the half century of her life from the 50s until her death five years ago in 2004.
I'm so enthusiastic about reading Julia Child that I've ordered Mastering French Cooking, a huge and expensive tome, and I don't cook, not ever, but I do want to read it.
I&aposve never been a fan of Julia Child, and whenever I ran across her show on PBS I&aposd make a conscious effort to change the channel, which was why I was surprised when My Life in France turned out to be one of the most well-written, engaging Autobiographies I&aposve read in quite awhile. The book covers roughly the same time period as the movie Julie & Julia except that it extends into the mid-70&aposs and discusses the beginning of her TV career and the writing of her second book. Even though it was comp I've never been a fan of Julia Child, and whenever I ran across her show on PBS I'd make a conscious effort to change the channel, which was why I was surprised when My Life in France turned out to be one of the most well-written, engaging Autobiographies I've read in quite awhile. The book covers roughly the same time period as the movie Julie & Julia except that it extends into the mid-70's and discusses the beginning of her TV career and the writing of her second book. Even though it was completed by her great-nephew and published after her death, Julia's unique voice and enthusiasm shine through. The reader will feel as if they are having a conversation with her over lunch. Julia's love of the food and people of France, as well as her husband Paul, permeate this book, and allow the reader to get a feeling for her as a person, rather than just an imposing, 2-D TV personality.
Like a hearty meal or a rich dessert, this is a book to be savored until the very last bite..Bon appétit! . more
I spent the summer of 1987 in Paris, studying beginning French at the Sorbonne and staying at the Cité Universitaire, in a program geared toward older students. Some of them wanted to take a cooking class, and the Sorbonne organized it for them. They needed one more student to make it go, and I was browbeaten into filling the empty space.
Understand, I was raised on the five Alaskan staples of Spam, Bisquik, Velveeta, pilot bread and Carnation Instant Milk. If we didn&apost get our moose that year we I spent the summer of 1987 in Paris, studying beginning French at the Sorbonne and staying at the Cité Universitaire, in a program geared toward older students. Some of them wanted to take a cooking class, and the Sorbonne organized it for them. They needed one more student to make it go, and I was browbeaten into filling the empty space.
Understand, I was raised on the five Alaskan staples of Spam, Bisquik, Velveeta, pilot bread and Carnation Instant Milk. If we didn't get our moose that year we didn't eat meat, except on my birthday, when I got pork chops no matter what. We got all the salmon and king crab we could eat for free. The salmon was mostly fried. The crab was mostly boiled. The first fresh milk I ever drank was in college. The first real cheese, same. Remember those Kraft Cracker Barrel packages of four logs of four different kinds? Until then I thought I hated cheese.
So at the time I went to this cooking school, my most complicated prepared meal was a hamburger. Claudine, our chef, went around the class, asking where we were from, and when I said Alaska her eyes lit up. "Alaska," she said, "sauvage. " and made up a roux for wild game on the spot just for me.
I've been playing catchup in the kitchen ever since. I can't believe it's taken me this long to discover Julia Child.
This book is the story of her life in France, from the first oyster in Rouen to the last pot roast at La Pitchoune in Provence. It's a love story, of her marriage with Paul Child, who is about the most intelligent, charming man I've ever met between the covers of a book. It's a voyage of discovery into French cuisine, into the science of cooking, into collaborating on and writing a cookbook, or any book for that matter. And it's a mesmerizing walk through Paris looking over Julia's shoulder. The first year she says
By now I knew that French food was it for me. I couldn't get over how absolutely delicious it was. Yet my friends, both French and American, considered me some kind of a nut: cooking was far from being a middle-class hobby, and they did not understand how I could possibly enjoy doing all the shopping and cooking and serving by myself. Well, I did! And Paul encouraged me to ignore them and pursue my passion.
(You'll remember what I said about Paul being intelligent and charming.)
The how-to portion of this book is fascinating. French ingredients are different from American ingredients and the French learn cooking by watching, not reading recipes, so Julia would take the recipes of her French collaborators and translate them and the ingredients and the measurements of the ingredients into something an American cook could, first, buy the ingredients for in America, and second, understand and recreate. And then she'd test them and test them and test them and test them again, and she and Paul would eat them and eat them and eat them and eat them again until it was foolproof enough to unleash upon American cooks. "No one is born a great cook," she says, "one learns by doing."
In between they'd drive around France and eat in great restaurants. In a more perfect world I would have been their child.
She concludes with a remembrance of that first, marvelous meal in Rouen
. the sole meuniere I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948. It was an epiphany.
In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite -- toujours bon appetit!"
I gotta say, I got a little teary at the end of this book. And I just ordered my first ever copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Both volumes. . more
What a beauty! It&aposs been a week since I finished reading this and it&aposs still stuck in my mind. I had never thought a biography of Julia Child would be of much interest to me. I only picked this up out of curiosity after watching Julie and Julia. I hated Julie but was intrigued by Meryl Streep in the role of Julia. But even so, I didn&apost have high hopes from the book.
My Life in France proved to be a beautiful piece of work. It is written by Alex Prud&aposhomme, Julia&aposs great-nephew, who spent days try What a beauty! It's been a week since I finished reading this and it's still stuck in my mind. I had never thought a biography of Julia Child would be of much interest to me. I only picked this up out of curiosity after watching Julie and Julia. I hated Julie but was intrigued by Meryl Streep in the role of Julia. But even so, I didn't have high hopes from the book.
My Life in France proved to be a beautiful piece of work. It is written by Alex Prud'homme, Julia's great-nephew, who spent days trying to get to the essence of Julia's love of French food. He used old letters and his discussions with his great-aunt to write this book. What is wonderful about it is the way it evokes feels of post-war France in a way I have never seen anywhere else. It's like watching a wonderful Jacques Tati film, only without the satire. I enjoyed the utter fascination of Julia and her husband, Paul, with France and French food. But Prud'homme deserves his own accolades for the writing.
I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Julia and Paul. They had genuine love and respect for each other. Here is one man you can say is the man behind the woman. Paul encouraged her in every venture and was content to play the second fiddle. Most of the women Julia talks about appeared to be working in the 50s, which I found quite intriguing. It was also interesting to read about Julia's relationship with her extreme right-wing father right in the midst of the McCarthy regime. Julia herself was left-leaning and appeared to be quite rational about her country's foreign policy.
Paul was a diplomat who was posted in France. This is how Julia got introduced to the country. It was instant love for her. After five years in France, they also lived in Germany, Norway, and the US. None of these places are described in quite the same way as France, so they were not as interesting to read about. The book does become less interesting in the second half once the couple leave France but by then I was so hooked with Julia's life and career that my interest remained strong. The author's descriptions of the various friends, acquaintances, and relatives of the couple gave a depth to the story and were sometimes quite funny.
And finally, the food! Julia was obviously passionate about food in all forms, but she was crazy about French gourmet food. I must admit the French have a great food culture, especially the way they take their time to actually eat. Even though I am a vegetarian, I actually began to appreciate Child's dedication to finding the freshest and best ingredients for her dishes. Her commitment to learning new dishes and experimenting on new ways to cook was inspiring. Sadly, I could not use most of her recipes because they were not vegetarian, but I found a couple of aubergine recipes that I totally intend to try out.
Julia Child was a remarkable woman, and Alex Prud'homme is a remarkable writer. This book is eminently readable and enjoyable. . more
Lighthearted and fun recollections of Julia&aposs first years in France. Highly recommended for anyone already enthralled by Julia, whether by her television programs or her excellent cookbooks.
Readers who do not know Julia may find the book a little too rambling, and a little too focused on food they&aposve never tasted and have no idea what it even is (often she does not give translations for food names).
As noted in the introduction, the book was pieced together from conversations Julia&aposs nephew had Lighthearted and fun recollections of Julia's first years in France. Highly recommended for anyone already enthralled by Julia, whether by her television programs or her excellent cookbooks.
Readers who do not know Julia may find the book a little too rambling, and a little too focused on food they've never tasted and have no idea what it even is (often she does not give translations for food names).
As noted in the introduction, the book was pieced together from conversations Julia's nephew had with her. He made notes at these conversations and then arranged the events described into some kind of chronological order. It is rather ingenious, because you are only reading the high points, the things an eighty-something year old woman remembers forty years later. Due to this, however, the narrative is not in any sense a complete autobiography, more like a series of remembrances arranged chronologically.
The book is an excellent portrait of the wonders of France just after World War 2, when the country was not as modernized as it is today. Also, the story is inspiring in that it starts when Julia and Paul are already nearing what some would call middle-age. It is not just young people that discover new things and live a life worth enjoying. Of course this is obvious anyway, but it is nice to see an example of it now and then. . more
I found this an absorbing read, and I&aposm no foodie. But I think what&aposs striking in this memoir of Child&aposs love affair with French food is her drive, her dedication to excellence, her passion--there&aposs something attractive in that no matter what the endeavor--as well as fascinating to get a picture of such an elite, esoteric world as high cuisine. It all started for Julia in 1948, when she had her first French meal. When she came to France she knew only a smattering of such French phrases as "Merci I found this an absorbing read, and I'm no foodie. But I think what's striking in this memoir of Child's love affair with French food is her drive, her dedication to excellence, her passion--there's something attractive in that no matter what the endeavor--as well as fascinating to get a picture of such an elite, esoteric world as high cuisine. It all started for Julia in 1948, when she had her first French meal. When she came to France she knew only a smattering of such French phrases as "Merci, Monsieur" (wretchedly pronounced) and was a terrible cook. She didn't even know what a shallot was, let alone what to do with one. One taste of sole meunière and she had an "epiphany." One that would lead her to study French cooking at the renowned Cordon Bleu culinary school, learning to cook everything from "snails to wild boar" and eventually lead to her collaboration on the ground-breaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and to her television show, The French Chef.
I'm not even sure after reading this if I like Julia Child. She came across at times as ruthless (she calls herself "unsentimental"), stubborn, opinionated--and ironically dismissive of those of different beliefs. I say ironically because she's so hard especially on her father and what she considered his ignorant views and intolerance. She was a liberal Democrat, he was a conservative Republican. And therefore, it seems to her, naturally a boob compared to the sophisticated Julia. Except that as she admits, it was only due to his generosity that she and her husband, living on his salary as a government employee, could live an affluent lifestyle consuming fine wines, escargot, truffles, Camembert cheese and foie gras. (Admittedly, one can understand her bitterness towards the GOP given what she related about her husband's brush with McCarthyism.) And while Child paints her father as xenophobic--well, her comments on the English made me cringe, and she characterized Germany as a "land of monsters." (Admittedly, when she and her husband were posted to Bonn, it hadn't been long since World War II. As for the English, she didn't care for their cooking--and that seems to have been a capital crime to Julia Child.)
Did I mention this is about a love affair with French cooking? Because it is. This made me salivate at the descriptions of Brie, bouillabaisse, baguettes. On the other hand, my vegetarian friend would probably find this book nauseating, and there's enough odes to red meat, cream, mayonnaise--and above all butter--to make a cardiologist weep. Nor could I imagine putting the effort, the time and expense, into cooking that Child described here. I'll happily leave the making of brioche and quenelles de brochet to professionals and limit myself to recipes no more complicated than tabbouleh. But I did enjoy the picture of post-war Europe. This was written by Child with the help of her grandnephew and based on the letters her and husband wrote at the time, so her reminiscences, especially of her time in Paris and Marseilles, are vivid and evocative. . more
I think the reasons I wanted to read this book are that Julia&aposs always thought of as a late bloomer, and because her travels were so influential in helping her discover herself.
Certainly, her life had great adventure.
Too tired and busy to go to France. "But then we looked at each other and repeated a favorite phrase from our diplomatic days: "Remember, &aposNo one&aposs more important than people.&apos!" In other words, friendship is the most important thing - not career or housework, or I think the reasons I wanted to read this book are that Julia's always thought of as a late bloomer, and because her travels were so influential in helping her discover herself.
Certainly, her life had great adventure.
Too tired and busy to go to France. "But then we looked at each other and repeated a favorite phrase from our diplomatic days: "Remember, 'No one's more important than people.'!" In other words, friendship is the most important thing - not career or housework, or one's fatigue - and it needs to be tended and nurtured. So we packed up our bags and off we went. And thank heaven we did!"
Her description of Provence, which she admits has changed since: "It was the cool, early-morning layers of fog in the valleys Esterel's volcanic mountains jutting up out of the glittering sea the warming Provencal sun and bright-blue sky the odor of earth and cow dung and burning grapevine prunings the colorful violets and irises and mimosas the olives blackening the sound of little owls talking back and forth the sea-bottom taste of Belon oysters the noisy fun of the marketplace the deeply quiet, sparkling nights with a crescent moon hanging overhead like a lamp. "
What does it mean that the prose gets better near the end? I want to sail to Europe how much more fun than flying! I want to see my car brought out of the cargo hold on by a crane.
I just saw a biography about Julia. It really was Paul who introduced her to food. But should you fault where you hear about that which you're destined to know of? And she pretty much comes out and says he dated every woman in Ceylon before he considered her. The biography used his letters to show how he was critical of her at first and then warmed up. What am I supposed to feel about this? I admire her tenacity yet I'd be unwilling to date someone who noticed me as late as second. She has a different kind of attitude about life that really makes me think. She mentions that they would have welcomed children. I think, though she was very liberal, you couldn't call her modern. Maybe that's not so bad I just don't think most people would do things this way. And maybe she stayed up nights crying, but she really seems too no-nonsense for that. Meanwhile, knowing I'm fairly young, I still worry about the appropriate time to have children, oh, nonstop. I kinda wish I could just make that kind of commitment to my own husband, so that I could focus on something else. But, for me, I always am never really sure if I'll want to be with him in five years. What do you think it's like to be not restless? But maybe she finally found that in cooking? Maybe I'll find myself someday. . more
This was such a lovely reading experience, for lots of reasons. I felt refreshed while reading it, and afterwards. I’ve since made a little hobby of revisiting old episodes of The French Chef on YouTube because they are calming and delightful (and I can make a French omelet now!).
I spent a lot of time in my childhood watching PBS because my dad was cheap and wouldn’t pay for cable, so that meant lots of Julia Child. I remember not caring so much about the food but loving how goofy and unpretenti This was such a lovely reading experience, for lots of reasons. I felt refreshed while reading it, and afterwards. I’ve since made a little hobby of revisiting old episodes of The French Chef on YouTube because they are calming and delightful (and I can make a French omelet now!).
I spent a lot of time in my childhood watching PBS because my dad was cheap and wouldn’t pay for cable, so that meant lots of Julia Child. I remember not caring so much about the food but loving how goofy and unpretentious Julia was as the host. I loved the timbre of her voice. It was simultaneously over the top and soothing. I remember loving it when she messed up, which happened often, and she just owned it. Anyway, except for watching Julie & Julia twice (the Julia parts are far superior to the Julie ones) I’ve barely thought of Julia Child since I was a kid, and that turns out to be a shame.
This is a memoir of Julia’s life, focusing largely on her time spent in France (if the title didn’t give it away). She and Paul lived in Paris for about a decade after WWII, which is where Julia fell in love with cooking, and with France itself. The majority of the book, about 60%, chronicles those ten years as she discovers herself relatively late in life, her marriage with Paul (which is #relationshipgoals), and the development of her career as a cook, a bestselling author, and a TV personality. Her love for food, her husband, for France, just falls off the page. She’s very introspective as a writer (although, the book was co-written with her nephew Alex Prud’homme, so I’m not fully clear on how much of the book was influenced by him).
I knew I would enjoy learning about Julia’s life, and the endless descriptions of rich, delicious foods that I’m sure would make me very ill if I ate them (sad tummy), but what really surprised me is how much I enjoyed this book as a sort of historical document. There are some instances where she quotes letters written at the time, but it’s not a true primary source document because it’s mostly told from her recollections. (Apparently someone published a book of letters between Paul and Julia, though, which I might be interested in reading–they both had terrific senses of humor and were very intelligent people. Nora Ephron used these letters as a source for Julie & Julia, and one of them has one of funniest and raciest lines in the film.) But, still, the insight into post-war American (and French, obviously) culture was fascinating. Julia’s fraught relationship with her very Republican father felt extremely familiar (she spends a not insignificant amount of time mourning their lack of connection, which she attributed to his incurious, close-minded personality), and she often muses on what was going on politically at the time, because it affected Paul’s job.
Overall, though, what you get when you read this book is a sense of a life well lived, full of learning and love and cooking. Julia Child seems to have been a person who did things because she liked them, and not for many other reasons. Her love of teaching on TV took her by surprise, as did her passion for cooking, but she ran with it, and her enthusiasm and hard work carried her through. I highly recommend reading this, even if you aren’t at all familiar with Julia Child.
Also, did you know that garlic soup (Aigo Bouido) is a thing? I’m going to make some, but first I have to master Julia’s recipe for mayonnaise. As much as her career was based on encouraging Americans to cook things from scratch, she was also very practical, so I’m sure she wouldn’t really mind, but I would still feel bad using Best Foods or whatever in her recipe. Garlic soup! . more
If you love books about food or about living in France, this is a must-read. It&aposs the story of how Julia Child learned to cook French food and how she came to write that famous cookbook. (The movie "Julie & Julia" was partially based on this memoir.) The book is filled with charming anecdotes about Paris and Marseille, and includes dozens of photographs that her husband, Paul, took. It&aposs one of the most delightful travel books I&aposve read in years.
What&aposs wonderful about Julia Child is the confiden If you love books about food or about living in France, this is a must-read. It's the story of how Julia Child learned to cook French food and how she came to write that famous cookbook. (The movie "Julie & Julia" was partially based on this memoir.) The book is filled with charming anecdotes about Paris and Marseille, and includes dozens of photographs that her husband, Paul, took. It's one of the most delightful travel books I've read in years.
What's wonderful about Julia Child is the confidence she can inspire in a new cook. I liked this quote toward the end of the book:
"The great lesson . is that no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing. This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun!" . more
“Madame Scheeld” – since reading this book, I’ve been smiling at how the French would address Julia Child. I love accents!
This is a delightful book about Julia Child and the things that she loved the most: her husband, France, cooking, and eating. I’m quite sure that I’m in the minority in that before reading this, I’d never watched an entire episode of Julia Child on TV. I was sad when the book was over, but now I have my eyes set on getting some of her cookbooks and looking up some of her sh “Madame Scheeld” – since reading this book, I’ve been smiling at how the French would address Julia Child. I love accents!
This is a delightful book about Julia Child and the things that she loved the most: her husband, France, cooking, and eating. I’m quite sure that I’m in the minority in that before reading this, I’d never watched an entire episode of Julia Child on TV. I was sad when the book was over, but now I have my eyes set on getting some of her cookbooks and looking up some of her shows.
I loved reading this anecdote about her husband Paul. It makes me long for the days of old when people used to send letters to each other.
“Paul and his twin brother, Charlie Child, a painter who lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, wrote to each other every week or so. Paul took letter writing seriously: he’d set aside time for it, tried to document our day-to-day lives in a journalistic way, and usually wrote three to six pages a week in a beautiful flowing hand with a special fountain pen often he included little sketches of places we’d visited, or photos (some of which we have used in these pages), or made mini-collages out of ticket stubs or newsprint.
This was taken in 1953, probably in Provence:
Some of my favorite quotes:
“I made sure not to apologize for it. This was a rule of mine. I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as ‘Oh, I don’t know how to cook . . . ,’ or ‘Poor little me . . . ,’ or ‘This may taste awful . . . ,’ it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, ‘Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!’
“Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile—and learn from her mistakes.”
“One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”
“… no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing. This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
“… nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn’t use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture—a gummy beef Wellington, say. But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience.”
“… the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite—toujours bon appétit!”
The seed for an enthusiastic and joyful approach to breakfast was planted when Turshen was a child at sleepaway camp. One of the counsellors told the campers that she could hardly wait to go to sleep because she was so excited to eat breakfast the next morning. Her sentiment made an impression on Turshen, and this recipe embodies the excitement a special breakfast can bring.
“Fun is a really valuable thing and something we have access to in our kitchens that we often forget — or at least I do. It’s easy to forget, ‘Oh, you could have a super fun meal,’” says Turshen. “We talk about vegetables or different places food is from, and I just feel like fun is a really important thing. It can really change your day, or even just a moment, and that counts for a lot.”
Comic book project helps teens discover and share stories of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II
Comics have historically been used to tell difficult stories and engage youth in important but challenging topics. Martin Luther King Jr. contributed to a comic book titled The Montgomery Story, a copy of which can be found in the museum's Archives Center. That work inspired Congressman John Lewis to tell his own story of the civil rights movement through comics in the New York Times bestseller March. Other famous examples are Maus, Art Spiegelman's series about his family's experiences during the Holocaust, and Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel series about her childhood in Iran.
Comics were also a method for Japanese American incarcerees in World War II to express their experiences. Most famous among these artists was Miné Okubo, who was incarcerated in Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah during World War II. A collection of 197 of her original drawings depicting incarceration are housed at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), our partner for this year's National Youth Summit. Okubo's drawings take you through her time at the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, California, and eventually to the Topaz camp in Utah. Her artwork inspired her book Citizen 13660, which in 1946 became the first personal account published on this topic.
Many photographs of incarceration offer a simplistic view of life in the camps. Having lived through this injustice, Okubo was able to portray what everyday life was actually like—dehumanizing and disheartening. Few besides those who experienced the camps truly understood what life behind barbed wire consisted of, and her heartbreaking illustrations help the reader empathize with the plight of their fellow Americans.
To prepare for this year's National Youth Summit, teen participants in the museum's Youth Civic Engagement Program (YCEP) collaborated with Evan Keeling, an artist and exhibition fabricator from the Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central, and the incredibly talented teens at Hirshhorn's ARTLAB+, to create original comics to represent oral histories from camp survivors. These comics are now available for the teens' peers, to be used in classrooms as preparation for the Youth Summit webcast.
First, the YCEP teens from the museum listened to and summarized oral histories of incarcerees, then shared them with ARTLAB+ students and Keeling. The artists and students not only helped construct the storylines, but also had to help make difficult editing decisions throughout the process.
The students learned that they were able to tell these emotional stories and engage audiences in this short-form medium. My fellow intern, Jasmine Daniels, reflected that, "It's been heartwarming to see how engaged our students have become in the topic of incarceration, and seeing that manifest through their tangible and thought-provoking comics is amazing."
Our teens were able to use the comics as tools to tell emotional stories and better understand the events of Japanese American incarceration. The use of comics made it possible to break down these often long oral histories into more digestible pieces, without losing the humanity of the narrators.
"Comics allow us to tell deeper and more personal stories," Sage Morgan-Hubbard, the museum's youth programs coordinator, said. "The images and words are capable of expressing intricate personal stories that words or images cannot possible do alone."
I asked Keeling to tell me a little more about why comics are important to him, and why he's chosen to use comics to tell stories that are important to him.
"Working at Smithsonian Exhibits, I've seen how much information about objects at the museums gets left out because you can only fit so much onto a label," Keeling said. "Comics are a great way to provide that extra bit the combination of words and pictures allows for you to fit a lot of information into a quick, digestible, and easily reproducible format. Learning about Japanese American incarceration with and from the teens has been great."
The students were also able to participate in a panel discussion by comic artists hosted by the National Museum of American History, where they explored issues of creative license and portraying sensitive topics in comic form.
Afterwards, one student noted, "I've learned that comic books, graphic novels, and methods to communicate to the youth need to be developed and incorporated into [high school] curriculum . . . so social issues can be addressed."
Seeing how the students were able to understand and digest the material presented to them in a different way proved to me that comics can be a great tool to teach and engage students of all ages about important historical events and social justice.
"I love sharing my love and knowledge about comics but I also love seeing how the teens approach the creation of the comics," said Keeling. "I enjoy seeing the aspects that they are drawn to and the ways they use the medium to tell these stories. I love researching about people and events and finding new ways to tell their stories in the dynamic medium of comics. Comics are a great tool for reluctant readers but they are also just as great for voracious readers. They quickly immerse the reader into a world fostering the desire to find out more about the subject."
Are you hungry to learn more? You can print out and enjoy the comics our students helped create and we invite you to help students you know to make their own! While you're at it, join us for a nationwide discussion with scholars, students, civil rights activists, and artists to learn more about Japanese American incarceration, its modern parallels, and how we use the lessons of the past to make positive change today.
Mia Calabretta is an intern for the Youth Civic Engagement Program and an American Studies major at California State University, Fullerton. Learn more about the Boy Scout on the cover of the comic in her recent post.