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Julia Child Turns 100

Julia Child Turns 100

Back in the roaring ’90s, when I was 20 and living in San Francisco, I frequented a DIVE Vietnamese restaurant in a rough-and-tumble district filled with flop houses and sleazy bars. The restaurant though was really quite exceptional, despite its very grubby appearance and frequent sightings of vermin. One time, while I was waiting for a to-go order, I noticed a greasy, yellowed newspaper clipping pasted up alongside the door. It was barely legible, but clearly was a sort of review of the restaurant where I stood, and the review was quite favorable. While this is hardly surprising, as posting positive reviews in your place of business is a sure-fire way to gain more customers, but this review was from, none other than the grand dame of cooking, Julia Child.

This strange dichotomy, Julia Child essentially typifying fine dining, and this Tenderloin dive being far from anything classy, struck me as humorously odd. However, Julia Child, despite being an authority on fine French dining (she wrote the landmark cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking), Child was first and foremost a lover of well-crafted food, and I guess, despite the vermin and the greasy walls, this place made some praise-worthy food.

If Child were alive today, we would be celebrating her centennial birthday and likely marveling that someone who indulged so much could still cook, or let alone stand. But sadly Child passed away in 2004 (just eight years shy of her centennial) and instead we have her tremendous legacy and love of cooking to reckon with. She changed how Americans cook, how they think about cooking and how they approach food. She sort of leveled the playing field for everyone, making cooking accessible to all, not just to the elite. And she changed television with her show The French Chef, which brought fine cooking home to television audiences everywhere.

What are some of your fond memories of Julia Child? Do you think she deserves such deification? If not, who do you think possibly deserves the praise more?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

53 comments

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3:21AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Julia Is an icon!!!! Thank you.

9:45PM PST on Feb 26, 2013

Have I missed something I thought this was about Julia Childs

3:28PM PST on Feb 22, 2013

thanks

4:52AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

Without getting involved with the lady of whom i know little, I find Amitav's words genuine and strong. I very much support that authentic approach

10:15PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

she is an icon from years back, thanks and happy birthday.

12:31AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

though i agree with much of what Amitav said, i find him an insufferable pisser. one wonders what lofty places he must find to reside in since his head is obviously verrrrrrrrrrrrry large.

5:45AM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

Holy smokes....100 years young!! Some of my earliest memories include the sound of her voice....my mom loved to cook and worshipped the words of Julia Child :)

11:23AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

Sorry, was cut off there... Care2 needs to post a character limit on its comments field :>

As I was trying to say to Susan B., Julie D., and Christina R. {continuing on from the last paragraph of my previous post}

You judge a person on the totality of their actions and beliefs, not just those that are convenient for you. That's why the wife-beating or rapist athlete from my favourite sports team is someone I will call out and turn against; that's why the company that produces my preferred product choice but takes advantage of its workers or pollutes the environment is one that I will protest and boycott; and that's why the entertaining but cruel and hypocritical chef is not one I will celebrate.

If it makes you feel better to call me a Nazi because I called attention to the critical flaws of someone you like, and that I believe in holding people to a higher standard, go ahead, it just reveals you to be the worst kind of hypocrite, a fairweather carer.

9:53AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

My mom used to watch her. I couldn't stand to listen to her voice. Later, I discovered how inhumane she was regarding animals. That sealed the deal with me...never a fan.

9:40AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

To Susan B., Julie D., and Christina R., can you see your own hypocrisy, or shall I point it out to you?

I attacked the subject of the article with a fair and reasoned argument -- I didn't like the woman because of the inherent cruelty toward animals in the decisions she made to promote meat, any and all meat above all other food, and to be damned with how the animal was raised or cared for (she supported veal crates and forced feeding of ducks, among other horrors), or even how the animal was killed (she cut up a live lobster on one famous episode of her show and saw nothing wrong with that and taught & promoted this to others). You, in turn, attacked me the person, with no particular argument other than I criticized someone you liked... boo hoo, your poor little souls must be so fragile... time to stay off public forums where you may encounter dissention and contrary views to your carefully constructed world.

I didn't like Julia Child, I found her to be evil and hypocritical. If you liked her, good for you, but don't bury your head in the sand in regards to her obvious and many flaws, even when many of those go against your own beliefs (if one is to believe your profiles) just because you found her entertaining.

You judge a person on the totality of their actions and beliefs, not just those that are convenient for you. That's why the wife-beating or rapist athlete from my favourite sports team is someone I will call out and turn against; that's why the compa

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