French Cooking for Everyday Americans: The Legendary Julia Child

By Ruby Cemental

If you've ever watched The Food Network or any modern cooking show, chances are you've heard references made to a beloved American cooking icon named Julia Child. Before there were a seemingly infinite number of channels on the television from which to choose, Child taught a generation of food lovers that cooking can be easy and enjoyable.

Early Life

Julia McWilliams was born in California in 1912 to a wealthy family, and as a result, led a privileged childhood complete with private school and elite sporting events like small-game hunting. Upon going to college, her initial plans were to become a writer; however, during college and after graduation, she had no luck with getting published, and became disheartened over the prospect of writing as a career.

Having moved to Washington D.C. at the onset of the second World War, she met a man named Paul Child and, after working side by side with him for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for nearly 5 years, they  married when the war ended. When Paul's job was reassigned to France, the two moved to Paris where Child's penchant for French cuisine took off. She attended the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school for 6 months of training, and fell in love with the food and the methods of cooking that she learned while there.

Passion for food

Joining together with 2 other graduates of the Cordon Bleu school, Child wrote a mammoth, 734 page cookbook titled Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication. She started promoting her book in 1962 on The French Chef TV series, and the show immediately became so successful that it reached syndication on 96 stations throughout America.

Even into her 70s, Child continued to receive accolades. She was inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame, and received France's highest honor: the Legion d'Honneur. Child, who famously said that "in [being a chef], you keep right on until you're through...retired people are boring," did not slow down until shortly before her death of kidney failure only two days before her 92nd birthday. But through her syndicated cooking show, her various cookbooks, and the 2009 film Julie and Julia, her legacy lives on.

Julia Child adapted complex French cooking for everyday Americans, and enjoyed success and happiness well into her senior years. She is a model for accomplishing goals later in life, proving that one does not have to give up on inspiration while in their golden years.

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Tags: Golden Inspirations

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