Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!

Julia Child was 49 years old when she co-published her first book, the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The 734-page cookbook simplified haute cuisine, making it accessible for the American home kitchen. The book became a bestseller and transformed Julia Child into a culinary and cultural icon.

Over the next four decades, as the French Chef, Child became a much-beloved television personality and she authored and co-authored stockpiles of books. She lived to the ripe old age of 92, defying the perils of indulging in butter, sugar and cream.

Blogger Julie Powell sought inspiration for her life by channeling Julia Child in her own home kitchen in Julie & Julia. The book documents Powell's year-long quest to cook all 524 recipes found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

August 15, 2012 marks the centennial of Julia Child's birth, and a host of titles continue to explore Julia's life and reinvigorate her indelible legacy:

Nancy Verde Barr, an executive chef who worked as Julia's Child personal assistant for 18 years, penned Backstage with Julia: My Years with Julia Child, a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of America's most revered chef.

Before she died, Child gave her blessing to author Bob Spitz to write Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, a comprehensive bio that delves into the years when the independent, rebellious late bloomer finally discovered her true calling in life.

The union of Paul and Julia Child is the cornerstone of Child's posthumously published memoir, My Life in France, and of A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant, which details the couple's turbulent years as members of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and how they became caught up in the McCarthy spy hunt of the 1950s.

Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson gives us an unusual montage of the chef via her feline companions. This compact, entertaining read is filled with personal photos and letters that document the role cats played in Julia's life as she moved from Paris to Provence, Cambridge to California.

And for kids ages four and up, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Amy Bates, dramatizes Julia Child's culinary beginnings through the eyes of her very first feline, Minette.  

Note: This article is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this piece as published on Shelf Awareness for Readers (8/14/12), link HERE