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Default Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf

http://www.economist.com/node/21560530
American cookery
The broken mould
A new biography of Julia Child

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf

IN THE acknowledgments to this enthusiastic, heroically researched
biography of Julia Child, Bob Spitz explains that he got to know his
subject during a jaunt around Sicily lasting several weeks, and found
her "exactly like her TV persona: warm, funny, outgoing, whip-smart,
incorrigible and, most of all, real. If I have to admit to one
prejudice confronting this book it is that I had a powerful crush on
her. Sorry. Deal with it." Join the queue, Mr Spitz.

Julia (it seems odd to call her anything else) had that effect on many
people. Unlike the prefabricated, brand-conscious hosts of
contemporary America's popular food shows-smirking, mugging Guy Fieri,
swooning Padma Lakshmi, grumpy Tom Colicchio-there was something
eminently jaunty and intimate about Julia. She did not preen, bluster,
condescend or intimidate; instead, she just spoke to her viewers, in
much the same unfussy, confident way that Elizabeth David did on the
page. What David did for Britain with Mediterranean food, Julia Child
did for America with French cuisine.

Like David, Julia McWilliams was born in the 20th century's second
decade to a wealthy family and was completely uninterested in the
social role laid out for her. She was an indifferent student at Smith
College, though as one of her advisers noted, "She will not need 'a
job', I do not believe." And indeed, she avoided one for years, living
the high life in her native southern California before turning serious
when America entered the second world war. In 1942, when she was 30
years old and resolutely husbandless, she joined the Office of
Strategic Services, the precursor of America's Central Intelligence
Agency.

Having ventured out of the United States precisely once (and then only
to Tijuana), she was posted first to India and then to Ceylon, where
she met a bristly aesthete ten years her senior named Paul Child. Paul
was withdrawn and reserved where Julia was ebullient and outgoing, but
they shared a certain frankness and, as it happened, a love of food-a
passion they discovered in each other in China, where, to escape the
horrible army slop, they ate their way around Kunming.

Julia did not get to Paris until 1948, when Paul's civil-service job
moved them there. She was then 36, without a career but with what Mr
Spitz calls "a burning ambition to do something useful". It took a
sole-sparkling fresh, cooked simply in brown butter with nothing more
than "a discreet splash of lemon and a dusting of parsley"-to direct
her ambition. She enrolled in cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, where
she realised that French cuisine was not about national origin, or
some mythical connection to la France profonde: it was about
technique. And technique could be learned and eventually mastered,
even by an awkward, six-foot-three-inch housewife from suburban Los
Angeles.

Just over a decade after her first Cordon Bleu class, Julia gave a
demonstration on a staid programme on Boston public television called
"People Are Reading". She had never been on television before. She
made an omelette. Looking on, quite bewildered, as the programme's
host, was a university professor who was more accustomed to discussing
books for a small, refined audience composed of other university
professors. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr Spitz goes beyond mere history and provides a full, human portrait
of Julia. This is no hagiography: she could be prickly, stubborn and
unsentimental to the point of coldness. She was also delightfully
foul-mouthed (to a protégée having trouble with Madeleine Kamman, a
French chef whom Julia particularly disliked, she advised, "You need
to follow my advice. Just call her up and say, 'Madeleine, ****
you!'"), and fond of her wine. Mr Spitz offers the reader a portrait
of an epicure, and of a life profoundly full, blessed and well lived.

--
Ann's Little Brother Bob
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Default Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf



"Bob O'Dyne" wrote in message
...

http://www.economist.com/node/21560530
American cookery
The broken mould
A new biography of Julia Child

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf

IN THE acknowledgments to this enthusiastic, heroically researched
biography of Julia Child, Bob Spitz explains that he got to know his
subject during a jaunt around Sicily lasting several weeks, and found
her "exactly like her TV persona: warm, funny, outgoing, whip-smart,
incorrigible and, most of all, real. If I have to admit to one
prejudice confronting this book it is that I had a powerful crush on
her. Sorry. Deal with it." Join the queue, Mr Spitz.

Julia (it seems odd to call her anything else) had that effect on many
people. Unlike the prefabricated, brand-conscious hosts of
contemporary America's popular food shows-smirking, mugging Guy Fieri,
swooning Padma Lakshmi, grumpy Tom Colicchio-there was something
eminently jaunty and intimate about Julia. She did not preen, bluster,
condescend or intimidate; instead, she just spoke to her viewers, in
much the same unfussy, confident way that Elizabeth David did on the
page. What David did for Britain with Mediterranean food, Julia Child
did for America with French cuisine.

Like David, Julia McWilliams was born in the 20th century's second
decade to a wealthy family and was completely uninterested in the
social role laid out for her. She was an indifferent student at Smith
College, though as one of her advisers noted, "She will not need 'a
job', I do not believe." And indeed, she avoided one for years, living
the high life in her native southern California before turning serious
when America entered the second world war. In 1942, when she was 30
years old and resolutely husbandless, she joined the Office of
Strategic Services, the precursor of America's Central Intelligence
Agency.

Having ventured out of the United States precisely once (and then only
to Tijuana), she was posted first to India and then to Ceylon, where
she met a bristly aesthete ten years her senior named Paul Child. Paul
was withdrawn and reserved where Julia was ebullient and outgoing, but
they shared a certain frankness and, as it happened, a love of food-a
passion they discovered in each other in China, where, to escape the
horrible army slop, they ate their way around Kunming.

Julia did not get to Paris until 1948, when Paul's civil-service job
moved them there. She was then 36, without a career but with what Mr
Spitz calls "a burning ambition to do something useful". It took a
sole-sparkling fresh, cooked simply in brown butter with nothing more
than "a discreet splash of lemon and a dusting of parsley"-to direct
her ambition. She enrolled in cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, where
she realised that French cuisine was not about national origin, or
some mythical connection to la France profonde: it was about
technique. And technique could be learned and eventually mastered,
even by an awkward, six-foot-three-inch housewife from suburban Los
Angeles.

Just over a decade after her first Cordon Bleu class, Julia gave a
demonstration on a staid programme on Boston public television called
"People Are Reading". She had never been on television before. She
made an omelette. Looking on, quite bewildered, as the programme's
host, was a university professor who was more accustomed to discussing
books for a small, refined audience composed of other university
professors. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr Spitz goes beyond mere history and provides a full, human portrait
of Julia. This is no hagiography: she could be prickly, stubborn and
unsentimental to the point of coldness. She was also delightfully
foul-mouthed (to a protégée having trouble with Madeleine Kamman, a
French chef whom Julia particularly disliked, she advised, "You need
to follow my advice. Just call her up and say, 'Madeleine, ****
you!'"), and fond of her wine. Mr Spitz offers the reader a portrait
of an epicure, and of a life profoundly full, blessed and well lived.

--
Ann's Little Brother Bob

Thanks for a great post! We picked up "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"
shortly following its publication in the 1960's and our world has never been
the same. She introduced and taught us French Cooking in language we all
heard, could understand and loved. She was incredible.

Kent





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Default Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf

On 2012-08-20, Bob O'Dyne > wrote:
> http://www.economist.com/node/21560530
> American cookery
> The broken mould
> A new biography of Julia Child
>
> Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. Knopf


Thanks for the heads up, Bob. I'll get it when it comes out in
paperback so I can read it in bed.

For you that can get it, watch the Biography Channel's bio of Julia.
It gets deep into Julia's struggles with her famous first book and her
co-authors/publishers and her early life with Paul. The best I've
seen so far.

nb

--
Definition of objectivism:
"Eff you! I got mine."
http://www.nongmoproject.org/
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