What I'm Reading: A Life In France

9 years ago
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Julia Child was 91 before she began writing the book about her journey, My Life in France. Her story is inspiring to me, not just because she became the phenomenon that is Julia Child, but because of the quiet truthfulness I find in her words. Standing at over 6 foot tall, marrying at age 34 to Paul, an unseemly man 10 years her senior, and living a life abroad, her path was far removed from the conventional assumptions of her times.

Having never before expressed much interest in cooking, Julia's new exploration into the world of French Cuisine in her late thirties was quite unexpected. She describes of her life before Paris as a "butterfly life of fun, with hardly a care in the world." After attending the Cordon Bleu Julia writes of discovering her life's calling. "By now I knew that French food was it for me. I couldn't get over how absolutely delicious it was. Yet my friends, both French and American, considered me some kind of nut: cooking was far from being a middle-class hobby, and they did not understand how I could possibly enjoy doing all the shopping and cooking and serving by myself. Well, I did! And Paul encouraged me to ignore them and pursue my passion." Paul's patient support of her work is a loving and reoccurring theme throughout the book.

Julia goes on to describe her obsessive attention to detail and a passion for food that no one else seemed to understand. "When I wasn't at school, I was experimenting at home, and became a bit of a Mad Scientist. I did hours of research on mayonnaise, for instance and although no one else seemed to care about it, I thought it was utterly fascinating... By the end of my research, I believe, I had written more on the subject of mayonnaise than anyone in history. I made so much mayonnaise that Paul and I could hardly bear to eat it anymore, and I took to dumping my test batches down the toilet. What a shame... I proudly typed it up (the recipe) and sent it off to friends and family in the States, and asked them to test it and send me their comments. All I received in response was a yawning silence." It is this same affection for detail that would later make her first publication Mastering the Art of French Cooking a definitive and historically significant contribution.

Julia and Paul's life together would continue to center around France even after their move back to the States. She describes the Parisian zest for simple living with tenderness and humor.   Read More at Florida Girl Meets the Midwest.