Over the next 60 years, through sheer hard work, persistence, imagination and having lots of fun along the way, Julia Child succeeded in making la cuisine bourgeoise accessible to households in the US and beyond. Her seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, co-written with her two French fellow culinary experts, took ten years to put together and publish. Her drafts were criticized as being too verbose or simply, poorly written. Nevertheless, she learned from her mistakes and kept at it.
I got to know Julia Child, thanks to the film Julie & Julia. Like her, I never spent much time in the kitchen and my family too had a cook. Unlike her, I wanted to learn how to cook, but I was either too afraid to try or I just didn’t think I could. Her story of finding her calling later in life resounded with me and gave me hope for my own. Not only that, but she gave me confidence to cook. When a scene in the film depicted Julia taking hours to cut onions, I realized that maybe the art of cooking is really something that anyone can master. Through trying her recipes and following her meticulous instructions, I appreciate how making a beef bourgignon or a simple omelette can be a pleasurable experience, for all the senses!
She was not afraid to speak her mind. When fats like butter and cream were demonized in the 90s, she stood up against the fear-mongering. “People are so fearful of what they eat. They are no longer enjoying food the way they once did, and the dinner table is becoming a trap rather than a pleasure.”
To top it all off, Julia Child enjoyed life. Even when she made mistakes in her cooking shows, she never shied away from them and even turned them to her advantage, making light of the situation. Her good humour, zest for life and sheer goodness made her such a likeable person. She may sometimes have come across as a perfectionist or a stickler for the rules, but it was only for the greater good: usually in the form of a sumptuous dish.