My Life in France, Julia Child, Alfred A Knopf, 2006, 333 pp
(Today's post is the first in a three part series about Julia Child's memoir, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and Julie and Julia the movie. Bon Appetit!)
I did not have high expectations for this book but it turned out to be one of the better memoirs I have read. Of course, it did not hurt that much of it takes place in Paris, in restaurants and kitchens, and that it is about cooking; all passions of mine. Julia was quite a woman and I got inspired about food, which is good, considering the weather is now hot and my husband has been on a diet.
Julia Child was the Georgia O'Keefe of cooking, in that she would make a dish up to fifty times to get it right and ensure her recipe could be followed. O'Keefe would paint the same picture many times over until she could produce what she saw in her mind's eye.
I grew to admire Julia for several reasons. She and her husband lived in a number of countries because he was in Foreign Service for the United States government. She always learned the language and shopped in local markets to learn the food and culture. Like my mother, she could make friends with anyone. Best of all, she went from being what she called an "unformed" young woman to finding her passion. Her drive and enthusiasm, her willingness to experience just about anything, were a pleasure to read about.
It was somehow reassuring to learn that she and her husband gained weight, had digestive difficulties and at intervals had to curtail their appetites for rich food and wine. They successfully balanced their immoderate ways and both lived into their 90s!
Finally, I thought it was hilarious that she had a TV show before she even owned a TV. There is much more to enjoy in this story, not least of which is the picture of European and American life in the second half of the 20th century. It is not only a book about food.
(My Life in France is currently available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore, though there will be copies on the shelf in a few days.)