Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Life in France... Julia's, that is

I just finished reading Julia Child's partial autobiography, My Life in France, focused primarily (as you might imagine) on her tranformative years spent in Paris and Marseille, and her subsequent fame in the US springing from the publication of her seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now, I believe it was circa 1991 or 1992 that I became obsessed all those old-school, waaay pre-FoodNetwork cooking personalities and shows: Martin Yan, Biba, Graham Kerr, The Frugal (and morally suspect) Gourmet Jeff Smith, the Great Chefs series, and so forth. So, how on earth did I manage to miss Julia? Well, perhaps that summer spent glued to the screen taking my chicken-scratch notes coincided with a rare lull in her steady stream of shows. In any case, I've always been aware of who she was and that she was an American champion of French cuisine, but I never got acquainted with her effervescent character, her joyful enthusiasm and earnest dedication to cooking and eating. It was inspiring to read about her adventures. I'm so struck by her unhesitating plunge into the world of haute cuisine... she, a brash and towering Californian woman going head to head with the biggest Old Boys Club in French culture. And she undertook this pursuit at age 37!


She was unapologetic, indefatigable and opinionated. She refused to compromise the quality or scope of MtAoFC, even when it meant getting dropped from a publisher (whose editors were no doubt kicking themselves later!). Yesterday I found myself killing time in Barnes and Noble, idly browsing the cookbook bestsellers. I came upon a book I'd seen much publicized, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, one woman's self-appointed challenge to cook her way through MtAoFC's 524 recipes in 365 days. The concept had first struck me as contrived, although it was mainly the fact of it getting billed as Bridget Jones Diary-type chick-lit that sparked my predjudice. But newly intrigued by all things Julia Child, I picked it up and was suddenly in 50 pages deep! However I'm on a moratorium of sorts for book buying, so onto the library list it goes.

Part of the reason for my moratorium is that I have so many unread food lit books lying already. I've just begun one of those: The People's Chef: The Culinary Revolution of Alexis Soyer. Good so far.....

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