Friday, August 15, 2008

Julia Child

If asked to make a list of my personal heroines, one of those at the very top would be Julia Child who was born on this date in 1912. I just loved her, starting way back in her early days on public television. I loved her energy; I loved the way she didn't fret if something went wrong; I loved her laugh and her joie de vivre.

I was lucky, oh so lucky, to see her a few years ago, and I felt in the presence of greatness. Though quite elderly, her humor and strength of character were undiminished. Of course the latest is that she was a spy during the Second World War! Now, really, would we expect any less of this woman?!

I would dearly love to visit her kitchen at the Smithsonian. This site is a wonder! You can learn about her life, see her utensils, hear her voice. In these times when people eat out or eat on the run, her message and her example are more important than ever. Some of my favorite quotes which I've read over the years:

Having a good time is the most neglected aspect of good health.

It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about - enjoying things.

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

Life itself is the proper binge.

Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.

The following photos are from my copy of Appetite For Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noël Riley Fitch. I think it is my favorite of all the Julia pictures I've ever seen. It shows her mischievousness, her love of life, and her love for her husband. Isn't it just great?!


  1. I will raise a glass to Julia today. She was a favourite of mine and I am reading "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn - a true story and she takes courses at Cordon Bleu in Paris and passes by a photo of Julia on her way to class each day and makes a positive comment to her from time to time.
    I enjoyed the TV episodes of her with Jacques Pepin, another favourite chef of mine!

  2. The exhibit really is a great one -- one of my favorites that the Smithsonian offers.

  3. Thank you all. I so enjoyed each of your comments. Too bad we couldn't toast her together! Sprite, I really envy you having seen it. I'm not sure I'll ever get there.
    I still remember Tom writing as fast as possible when Julia was telling her chocolate mousse recipe. :<)

  4. That Valentine card is FANTASTIC! I've always loved her and when I heard about the spy thing and what some commentators were saying (that is was embarrassing to her family), I just thought, wow! She was even cooler than I thought she was!

  5. My Susan Branch calendar told me it was Julia's birthday today and I was thinking of writing about her on my blog. Then I thought to myself "hmmm, I wonder if Nan did." And sure enough! :) What a lovely tribute to a great lady! I especially loved your collection of Julia quotes.

  6. I love Julia Child and finding out she was a spy is just the cherry on top. Thanks for a fun read (and marvelous photos).

  7. I learned to cook as a young housewife watching Julia Child. My mother had no interest in cooking, in fact, she hated it, and I had little experience but always looked forward to learning my way around the kitchen.

    Julia was a delight. With her as a guide I discovered the many layers of French cooking and developed a love of experimentation with new foods, new tastes, new wines, and a better life.

    When I started a catering company I was tempted to call it "Julia's Child," but she was still alive then and I have read how she objected to having her name exploited for commercial purposes. My little company would hardly have been a threat to the great lady, but I couldn't stand the idea of doing something she might consider opportunistic. I just felt in some small way I was Julia's Child.

    Happy birthday, dear lady. I hope you're enjoying a banquet in the afterlife.

  8. I love that photo too! I wonder if we will hear more about her role as a spy - such a fascinating life-loving lady she was, and like you, I would love to visit the exhibit at the Smithsonian. I really enjoyed her book My Life in France - I recommend it.

  9. Nan, I love this post since Julia Child is one of my all-time favorites... the other being James Beard. They still have some of my favorite recipes that I use to this day. When I worked in Greenwich Village in NYC I used to pass James Beard's home on the way to the subway, and often saw him cooking in his kitchen through the windows, always with a pad or notebook next to him making notes. I also sat at a table near him a few times at a favorite French restaurant in the area. That was always fun since the chef would come out and ask him for tips on preparing his meal :)

  10. Just stopping by to say hi! I loved Julia as well... And I loved it when she was interviewed once and she said that one of her favorite snacks was a Peanut Butter Sandwich! I expected Crepe's Suzette! I'm off to check out that website!
    I hope you are well!


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