Monday, August 24, 2009

Appetite for Life - The Biography of Julia Child ~ By Noel Riley Fitch

Julia Child, an American cook, writer and popular television host needs no introduction. A recent trip to the local library has changed my life for good. I found this rustic looking book with a frontfacing picture of Julia Child, the picture looks like one of those old, pre-world war era, vanilla-black pictures. She non-chalantly talks about food delivery mechanism in pre-world war era where individuals, sort of handymen delivered food items, vegetables, meat, poultry on a wheel barrow, door to door once a week. Though her expertise is French cuisine, she has her prowess and grip on American food and cuisines. Overall, a great narrative on Julia's life, Food and her connection with Food in her own words.

As I surged ahead, page by page trying to get an understanding of Julia's life, I must say I have been pleasantly surprised! She was born as Julia Carolyn McWilliams, a 6'2" frame in Pasadena, California. Her mother, Julia Carolyn (Caro) McWilliams had a key role to play in her choices she made in life, career and livelihood in general. During younger days, Julia had adopted bad eating habits and fed her ravenous hunger on brownies with chocolate sauce, toasted cheese sandwiches, and chocolate ice-cream, sodas from across the street. Hubbard Hall at Smith's College was where she associated herself with the dining experience of her fellow friends. Following her graduation with a Bachelors of Art in English, she moved to NY to take up a job in publishing with an upscale Home Furnishing firm. Thereafter, she returned to California in 4 years time and resumed her career in writing and publishing industry.

The World War - II changed her life as Julia confesses in her own words. She joined Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and was initially posted in Washington D.C., as a Research Assistant. She boarded SS Mariposa, a cruise ship and sailed alongwith 9 other women and more than 3,000 mento pursue a career in managing highly classified communications. She first landed in Bombay during an April summer. Following her stint at the war, she met Paul Child on a tea planter's veranda, a multilungual officer who was posted an OSS officer creating maps and graphs for the Warm Room of OSS China, first in New Delhi and then in Kandy (Sri Lanka). I felt wee bit proud fathoming the fact that Julia found her true calling in India :)

Following the war, she married Paul Child in 1948 after which they moved to Paris where Paul Child was assigned by US State Department.

"Her first tryst with French food which she had ever tasted was something which she was hooked for life. This occured in Rouen, in a restaurant called La Couronne. Briny oysters on the half shell and a bottle of chilled Pouilly-Fuisse. A green salad, creme fraiche and a final cafe filtre. She describes this meal as "quietly joyful". "The whole experience was an opening up of the soul and spirit for me...I was hooked, and for life, as it has turned out". In Paris, she attended the Le Cordon Blue cooking school. She also joined Womens Cooking Club - Cercle De Gourmettes where she met Simon Beck who with her friend Louisette Bertholle was writing a French cookbook for Americans. The trip researched, translated the French recipes and the by-product was published in 1961, the 734 page - Mastering the Art of French Cooking. "

In 1962, her appearance on a book show led to the inception of her television cookery show where she demonstrated how to cook an Omlette. She also found theAmerican Institue of Wine and Food at Napa, California with famous vintners, Robert Mondavi and Richard Graff. Later, she rose to be a popular television host of many a renowned TV Food shows - In Julia's Kitchen with Masters Chefs, Baking with Julia, etc. Her famous Copper pots and pans have been reunited at National Museum of American History. Her kitchen has been restored at Smithsonian and is a delight for the visuals bits and pieces you get to see.

I cannot wait to watch the movie based on her life: Julia and Julie. Here's to a great cook, writer who revolutionised the cooking genre for many a chefs, men and women across the globe. I am certainly added to her fan list!

Credit Source:
Appetite for Life ~ By Noel Riley Fitch

1 comment:

  1. totally loved the movie - have you watched it yet?


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