Many years ago, I was walking at sunrise on beach near Santa Barbara when I chanced upon a tall lady holding a mesh sack. She stopped to chat and I realized immediately that I was talking with the famous chef, Julia Child. She happily opened her sack and showed me mussels she had collected. She proceeded to tell me how to prepare them. She was excited and, of course, I was too.
I grew up watching Julia Child on her PBS show, The French Chef. We loved to imitate her falsetto voice. My mother tried out a number of recipes, all with disastrous results. I’ve been trying some of her recipes – also with not such great results. Oh well, as Julia would say, “Don’t apologize for your cooking mistakes. It is what it is.”
Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912 and we are celebrating by reading:
Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland (Schwartz & Wade Books 2012)
This is my new favorite biography. The art and text combine to make a clever, witty and fun book that packs in lots of great information. What a life Julia lived! Did you know that Julia was 6 feet 3 inches tall? That she loved playing pranks as a child, flunked typing, and worked for a fashion magazine? She tried to enlist in the army but was too tall so she joined the Office of Strategic Services (an American spy agency) and worked in Ceylon where she met her future husband, Paul Child. Together they traveled the world and delighted in trying native foods. After WW II, they moved to Paris where she attended the Cordon Bleu cooking school. She wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with two friends which still sells well to this day. Julia also developed the French Chef TV cooking show and influenced generations of chefs.
I love the way author Jessie Hartland has written and illustrated this book. (sorry the photos are a bit small).
If you find yourself in Carpinteria, California, take time to visit the Rose Story Farm (call for a tour). The owners transformed a former lemon orchard into an fragrant garden of roses. Julia Child was a close family friend who loved spending time in the gardens. She loved the roses, especially an unnamed butter yellow floribunda with a mild licorice scent. (Doesn’t it sound delicious?) The family contacted the grower and fittingly, the rose was named Julia Child shortly before the end of her life. It went on to be the American Rose Selection Winner for 2006.
I spent a lovely afternoon with Carmen and Katie in the Julia Child Memorial Garden at Rose Story Farm.
Katie holds a bouquet of Julia Child Roses.
Roxanne channels her inner Julia.
We made the author’s crepe recipe that is included in the book. Bon Appetit!