I grew up watching Julia Child with my parents. I had no interest in actually cooking at that age, but I loved how easy and fun she made it seem. She even used a sword to cut up a chicken that time. I want to cut up a chicken with a sword. Many of my culinary ambitions can probably be traced back to her in some way. I have yet to cut up anything with a sword, but it will happen.
Julia Child led a more interesting life than many realize. She doesn’t go into World War II much in the book, but she was stationed in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and tasked with setting up an underground network of secret agents in Asia. She was also involved in shark repellant research. Not Batman shark repellant, but close enough. It’s like if Ian Fleming’s M retired and started hosting a cooking show in which she cut chickens apart with swords.
While working in Ceylon, she met her husband Paul Child. They eventually found themselves in France, as Paul was station there working in the Foreign Service. It was there, in her late 30’s, that Julia Child began to learn how to cook and how to speak French. I’m always happy to hear of people learning foreign languages at a later age. It gives me hope that I’ve still got it in me. She not only learned to speak fluent French, but she also learned some German and Norwegian as well.
This autobiography also gives an interesting look into America post World War II, when the McCarthy witch hunt was blindly accusing everyone of being a communist. Paul Child’s foreign office, full of Americans who had fought and helped during the war, was slowing withered down during these accusations, and Paul himself was eventually interrogated as well.
This was written by Julia Child and Paul’s grandnephew during the last eight years of her life. I’m always astounded by the detail in some memoirs. The Childs exchanged a lot of letters with people back home while living abroad, and apparently those proved invaluable in writing this. If she had lived in the modern age of Skype, the descriptions in this would probably have been a lot more vague. I’d have to do some pretty major digging to figure out what I watched on TV last night. I can’t imagine trying to find the name of the owner of my favourite restaurant from 50 years ago.
I really loved this. There were people commenting on Audible that the narrator, Kimberly Farr’s, French pronunciation was terrible, but I was happily oblivious that that. Read this if you’re interesting in food, France, or awesome women.