Julia Child signing a cookbook

Julia Child and the Love of Cooking

I recently read the late Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, which was published earlier this year. It’s a quirky book, a series of often disconnected vignettes, but it is an entertaining read, opinionated and charming and endowed with a sense of humor, like Julia herself. You can hear her relating the anecdotes in her distinctive, warbly voice. You can taste the Champagne and roast chicken and heavy cream as she and husband Paul Child enjoy an endless series of leisurely Parisian lunches.

It also serves up a fact a lot of folks don’t know—until her early 40s, Julia Child couldn’t cook a thing. She had grown up in an upper-middle-class family that employed a cook, and never learned the culinary arts. When her husband’s job in the U.S. Information Service took them to Paris, she fell in love with the food. Soon, she realized that eating all that marvelous French food wasn’t enough; she wanted to learn how to make it herself.

The rest, of course, is history. After studying at the famed Cordon Bleu culinary school, Julia Child opened her own cooking school in Paris, co-authored the first “real” French cookbook for American cooks, starred in the first cooking show on TV, nurtured new generations of cooks, and well into her 80s followed a travel schedule that would have exhausted many folks half her age. (Julia Child died in 2004, two days shy of her 92nd birthday. Her nephew, Alex Prudhomme, finished the memoir.)

“I was always hungry,” she said on more than one occasion, explaining why she pursued a culinary career.

Cooking is seen by too many people as a chore to be avoided. Yet, unless you’re rich, cooking your own food is really the only way to eat well, day in and day out. Especially if you’re always hungry.

Still can’t cook? It’s never too late to learn. Find a culinary school or cooking classes in your area and, who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Julia Child.

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