Author: Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme
File Size (Pages): 6828 KB (353)
Published: 2007 (first published 2006)
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Genre: Memoir, Non-fiction
Description: Julia Child singlehandedly created a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story – struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took them across the globe – unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years. (via Goodreads.com)
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and loved the description of the restaurants that she and Paul went to when they first arrived and how she, a self admitted non-cook in her late 30s, became a cook by diving into French culture by learning the language, the customs of buying food at a local market and by taking classes at the famed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (which was also attended by the author of Kitchen Counter School) in the late 1940s. While I am not a cook myself (as you probably all know by know), I could really appreciate the chance that Julia took to learn to become an accomplished cook (she came across as the sort of person that has the expectations to become an accomplished cook; I think also the fact that she was trying to get to the same sort of level as Paul's mother had a large effect on her) and even though I probably will never get to the level of Julia herself (somehow we always compare ourselves to her), I think even taking the chance to cook or bake something is a step in the right direction.
I did appreciate her frankness about her frustration in writing the first cookbook and even though there was great success with the second one as well, she didn't bow into pressure into writing a third book. I also appreciate that the book felt personal, even though it was only a glance into her private life, and that not everything was perfect and how she worried about things just like we all worry about things and how concerns about what was going on in Paul's work in the 1950s was of equal concern for her and probably didn't make things any easier when living abroad in Europe, far away from family and friends in the States.
Also, I appreciated that she didn't constantly talk about food in the book and that you felt like you got to know Julia and her husband, albeit on a surface level, and the fun little facts that she passed along in the book (did you know that Judith Jones, the editor for Mastering Vol.1 & 2, was the person that got The Diary of Anne Frank into the hands of American readers in the 1950s, when it was just sitting on "the pile" of manuscripts that had been submitted to her while she was working for Random House in Paris?) that made the book enjoyable to read.
Bottom line: It's probably the best "foodie" memoir that I have read and for once it was more about the life of the person rather than the food, even though one could probably taste one of her famous dishes as you read the book (I haven't so I can't exactly say). But whenever I would pick up the book, I would be transported into a world in which food wasn't just for survival, it was meant for feeding the soul and to be enjoyed by everybody around. Recommended for those that are fans of Julia Child, those who have watched "Julie & Julia", or just generally like good food with a good glass of wine.
Pages for 2012: 5430