by Julia Child, with Alex Prud'Homme
Narrated by Kimberly Farr
Books on Tape, 2006
11 hours, 17 minutes
I have a new hero! Growing up in the 60's and 70's, Julia Child was that lady with the funny voice who cooked on TV. My mother, busy raising six fussy eaters, definitely wasn't cooking from Mastering The Art of French Cooking. By the late 70's and early 80's, my primary association with Julia became Dan Ackroyd's Saturday Night Live sketch. You remember... the one with blood spurting all over the kitchen?
Thankfully, my culinary interest and skills evolved since then, but I still had no special interest in Julia Child. The movie Julie & Julia changed that!
My Life in France opens in 1948. Julia, newly married to Paul Child, arrives in France (unable to speak the language) and within hours consumes a meal (Sole Meuniere at Restaurant La Couronne in Rouen) that alters the course of her life. Julia first learns the language, then sets out to learn French cooking. After graduating from the Cordon Bleu, she begins to teach and, eventually, writes "The Book". My Life in France chronicles that fascinating journey but, at the same time, provides wonderful glimpses into French life, her marriage and personal relationships, and the meals she eats. Oh, those meals...
The book left me with a new, somewhat unexpected, appreciation of Julia Child. I admire her determination and drive in identifying her dream and chasing it. I admire the painstaking experimentation, testing, and attention to detail behind each and every recipe in her cookbook. Through that laborious process, she was able to produce the authoritative source on French cooking for Americans. Finally, I admire Julia's outlook on life.
A final thought from Julia:
"In Paris in the 1950's, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture - a gummy beef Wellington, say. But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience."
My final thought:
Although the audio is well done, I often wanted to see the names of places, foods, or people in print. (I don't speak French.) In addition, all the wonderful photos are, obviously, missing from the audio. If you have any interest at all in cooking, eating, France, or Julia Child, you must read this book!
FTC disclosure: I purchased the audio download from audible, and borrowed the book from my library.
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