View Cart

"My Life in France" by Julia Child

My Life in France is available at

My Life in FranceAbout once every couple of years, I decide I want to learn to cook. I buy cookbooks and cooking magazines, stock up on new utensils, develop elaborate menus and find ambitious recipes. Then I get involved in something else, like writing blogs or sewing, and end up serving beans and franks for dinner. Usually what triggers my avoidance behavior is that the recipe calls for a pound of butter or a cup of heavy cream (which for me would also require a large investment in antacids) or an ingredient I've never heard of. If I get past the ingredient list, the recipe tells me to do something like "fatigue" the lettuce without explaining what it means, and I realized that it is not just the lettuce that is tired. I take a nap and serve tomato soup.

Admitting my obvious indifference toward cooking, it would seem that the last thing I would want to do is read a memoir by Julia Child. Certainly such a work would further bruise my culinary self-image not to mention my domestic self-respect. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment, but I could not help buying My Life in France after seeing a picture of Julia Child's kitchen faithfully re-created for the upcoming movie Julie & Julia. The kitchen picture appeared in the August, 2009 issue of Country Living magazine. The kitchen is charming and unpretentious. (Most of the work on the original kitchen was done by Julia and Paul themselves.) One would be amazed that Julia could turn out such masterly works in such a humble space. The notion that my favorite actress, Meryl Streep will play Julia also ensures that I will see the movie in August, as soon as it is released.

After reading a couple of pages of My Life in France, I suspected that by the time Julia was my age, she had suffered through more kitchen disasters than I have. I immediately felt a kinship to her and wanted to know how she progressed from being a know-nothing cook to being the quintessential household chef.

Julia's story starts in 1948 when her husband, Paul, is offered a job with the United States Information Service in Paris. Paul had French roots and spoke the language fluently, so it was he that introduced her to French ways, especially French food. Once settled in, Julia and Paul plopped down an enormous sum of money for her to attend the professional course at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. One could think of a million ways in which such and act could lead to disaster, or at least penury, but Mrs. Child evidently understood what she wanted, and was willing to work hard, so and the investment eventually yielded exponential returns.

Julia Child's approach to cooking paints her not so much as an artist but as a scientist. Her attitude was that one could usually learn more from failures than from successes, and she was willing to face failure, even on her PBS cooking show, The French Chef.  The irony about her on-screen failures is that they endeared her to the audience, as these were the moments when her warm sense of humor came through. These on-screen faux pas made an intimidating subject more accessible to the masses.

Julia Child's imperturbable nature is also reflected in the way she handled their many moves--from Paris to Marseilles to Germany to the U.S. then to Oslo. All the while she managed to collaborate with her Parisian friends on two volumes of, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, drag her cooking utensils with her and make the best of less-than gourmet style kitchens in their rented residences.

Paul Child's grandnephew, Alex Prud'Homme collaborated with Julia Child when the latter was in her 90s, to bring this book to life. Prud'Homme studied the letters that Julia and Paul had written over the decades, viewed tapes of her shows and read her cookbooks. Using notes culled from this research, he conducted many interviews with Julia and later submitted the chapters to her to edit. Even at 91, she was an exacting editor. However, together they managed to tell a relaxing, meandering story with the elegance and humor one would expect from Julia Child and the charming style one would expect from a professional writer like Alex Prud'Homme.


Post a Comment

Browse Ebooks by Tag

Support Free Ebooks

If you enjoy our free ebooks, please consider making a donation to offset website costs.
Why donate?

Highest Rated Ebooks