Women’s History Month: Julia Child
Source: A Taste Of Home
Famous chef, author, and television personality, Julia Child made French cuisine accessible to American audiences. She was one of the first women to host her own cooking show on television, providing tips and lessons on how to prepare French food simply and easily. “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child
For her high school education, Child was sent to the Katharine Branson School for Girls, a preparatory school in Northern California. Here, she attended classes in Latin, French, history, and mathematics to prepare her for college. Child also engaged in a wide range of sporting activities including tennis, swimming, and basketball. Although not very scholastic, she was quite popular at school and was active in a number of school groups. Growing to a height of six feet, two inches, Child was the natural choice to be captain of the school’s basketball team. She was also president of the Vagabonds, a hiking club.
After graduating from Smith College in 1934, Child moved back to California. She returned to Massachusetts in order to take a secretarial course at the Packard Commercial School. After a month of training, Child quit the course because she had found a secretarial job with W. J. Sloane, a home furnishings company, in New York City. She worked for this company until 1939, when she was fired for insubordination over a mix up with a document.
Child wanted to join the military, and applied to join the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and the Women’s Army Corps (WACs). However, Child was rejected from both organizations because of her height. She was too tall. Wanting to become more involved in the war effort, she moved to Washington, DC in 1942. In August of that year, she become a senior typist with the Research Unit of the Office of War Information. At the close of 1942, Child took up the position of junior research assistant with the Secret Intelligence Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner to the CIA. She undertook a variety of positions at the OSS, including clerk at the director’s office and administrative assistant in the Registry of OSS. She also eagerly volunteered to work for OSS overseas. From 1944-1945, she kept intelligence files for the OSS in India. The following year, she worked for the organization in China.
Following the war, she married Paul Child, whom she had met while working for the OSS in India. Paul Child worked for the US Foreign Service. In 1948, the couple was posted to Paris for Paul’s work. It was in Paris, that Child began to take cooking seriously. She enrolled in the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.
During this time, she also met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. Together the three women published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961. This book brought French cooking and cookery techniques to the American public. It also launched Child on her cooking career, which lasted for over forty years.
The Childs returned to the United States in the 1960s and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At this time, Child was approached by television executives to host a cooking show, The French Chef, based on her book. The first program was shown on what came to be known as PBS in 1963 and remained on the air for a decade.
It brought Child national and international recognition. She also won a Peabody and Emmy Award for the program. She went on to publish several more cookbooks, including a second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She also hosted several other television series, including Cooking with Master Chefs and Julia Child & Jacques Pépin Cooking at Home, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award.
She established organizations to inspire others to share her love of food and to expand people’s awareness of cooking. She co-founded the American Institute of Wine and Food in 1981, and created the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts in 1995. For her work, she was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from numerous schools, including Harvard University and Brown University.
Child died on August 13, 2004, having left a legacy of culinary art and education. Her kitchen, made famous by her cooking programs, was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. By visiting the Smithsonian museum, thousands of people now peek into Child’s kitchen each year. The US Postal Service marked Child’s achievements, when they included her in the 2014 “Celebrity Chefs Forever”
Julia Child was full of wisdom both in and out of the kitchen. Here are some of the best life lessons you can learn from the queen of French cuisine. So grab a stick of butter and put on your pearl necklace. Here are some of my favorite Julia Child quotes.
1. “I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate.”
Julia Child famously did not learn how to cook until her 30s, proving that it is never too late to learn something new. Also, if you just want to eat, that’s OK, too.
2. “A party without cake is just a meeting.”
Truthiness! “If you ever invite us to a party without a cake, consider yourself unfriended. And pie will not do.”
3. “I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
Her TV show began before the feminist movement, making this quote even more profound. Recommending power tools to housewives in the 1960s? Love it!
4. “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
Have you ever gone to dinner with a person on a diet? Not fun.
5. “It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.”
According to Child, the flavor of onions blends perfectly into any dish (except dessert). Would civilization turn to chaos without onions? We don’t want to find out.
6. “With enough butter, anything is good.”
Her love of butter went against the mainstream attitude at the time. Most feared that butter would raise their cholesterol. Child was once again ahead of her time. Experts now advise that it is fine in moderation (like pretty much everything!).
7. “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
Her passion for cooking made her an icon, and it all started as a hobby while she lived in France. She said you can never learn enough about the things you love.
8. “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”
In a world of perfectly polished social media posts, a little imperfection is more than refreshing. She wasn’t afraid of making mistakes and always taught us to learn from them. Could this quote be the source of the “5 second rule” when food falls on the floor?
9. “I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food…”
Feeling intimidated by a recipe? Make like Julia and pour a glass of wine (or two!).
10. “Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!”
In other words, fake it ’til you make it. Doesn’t this make you want to throw on an apron and start ordering people around the kitchen? Add the before-mentioned wine and cake, and this does indeed sound like a marvelous time.
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