Archive for the ‘Julia Child’ Tag

Improving the Palate   Leave a comment

After watching the HBO series about Julia Child and how she not only elevated American cuisine but also played a significant role in the rise of Public Television, I became interested in Judith Jones.

Jones edited Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As a fictional work, the TV series played with some facts, not just about the Childs, but also Jones. This led me to her memoir The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food.

Jones grew up in a privileged family where food was given little attention. If not for the family cook, meals would have been completely uninspired. Food was meant to be consumed not talked about. This makes it fascinating to learn about how not only her palate but also her passion evolved.

Jones approach is unassuming and engaging. Yes, she drops names, as in culinary celebrities, but not before she shares her experiences as a college coed in New York City and Paris. The City of Lights is where she met the loves of her life: Evan who she would marry and fine cuisine.

After spending several years in Paris, The Joneses return to New York, where she worked first at Doubleday and later at Knopf. It was there she saved The Diary of Anne Frank from oblivion and made her name as an editor.

Jones recounts her interaction with chefs, her own cooking endeavors and her efforts that helped home cooks move from the bland to the sublime. Jones also includes many recipes in the memoir.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food

Four Bookmarks

Anchor Books, 2007

290 pages, includes photos and index

Setting America’s Culinary Table   4 comments

Any foodie worth his or her cookware will want to read Bob Spitz’s Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julie Child. Even if you’ve already savored your way through other biographies, memoirs or the film Julie and Julia, this is a must-read. At 500+ pages the book may seem daunting, but Spitz’s writing is conversational and personal; his respect for his subject is clear.

And why not? Her contribution to food culture notwithstanding, Julia Child was an intelligent, loving, enthusiastic woman. For much of her early life, food was just sustenance. She didn’t start cooking, or truly enjoying meals, until she was in her late 30s; once she did, she never stopped.

The biography is told chronologically, except for the prologue. Here the author describes the scene at WGBH in Boston just before Child makes her first television appearance where she cooked an omelet using a hot plate. From there, Spitz tracks everything including her privileged childhood in Pasadena, Calif., life in the Office of Strategic Services outposts, her marriage to Paul Child, and her almost-accidental love affair with food. The most interesting aspects are those that show her as a woman filled with a joie de vie and the ability to change with the times.

Spitz did extensive research to tell Child’s story. The result is a portrait of an unlikely leader in the early days of the food awakening in the United States. Her television shows, her cookbooks, even the parodies of her, contributed to the word “foodie” becoming part of our everyday vernacular.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julie Child
Four-and-a-half bookmarks
A.A. Knopf, 2012
534 pages

Posted November 18, 2012 by bluepagespecial in Books, Reviews

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,