August 18, 2018

Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child


My Life in France

by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme

Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Biography, Food

Publisher: Anchor Books

Length: 353 pages

Published: republished June 23, 2009
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Note: This memoir is the inspiration for the popular film Julie & Julia.

My Goodreads Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"The bestselling story of Julia’s years in France—and the basis for Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams—in her own words.

Although she would later singlehandedly create a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, Julia Child was not always a master chef.

Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story—struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took the Childs across the globe—unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia’s success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of America’s most endearing personalities. "

Quote:

"This is my invariable advice to people: learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"


Excerpt:

"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove. I’ve always had a healthy appetite, especially for the wonderful meat and the fresh produce of California, but I was never encouraged to cook and just didn’t see the point in it....

I would never have had my career without Paul Child.We’d first met in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during the Second World War and were married in September 1946. In preparation for living with a new husband on a limited government income, I decided I’d better learn how to cook. Before our wedding, I took a bride-to-be’s cooking course from two Englishwomen in Los Angeles, who taught me to make things like pancakes. But the first meal I ever cooked for Paul was a bit more ambitious: brains simmered in red wine! I’m not quite sure why I picked that particular dish, other than that it sounded exotic and would be a fun way to impress my new husband. I skimmed over the recipe, and figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make. But the results, alas, were messy to look at and not very good to eat. In fact, the dinner was a disaster. Paul laughed it off, and we scrounged up something else that night. But deep down I was annoyed with myself, and I grew more determined than ever to learn how to cook well."

My Book Review:

Written with the help of her niece, My Life in France recounts Julia Child's journey to becoming the world's most famous chef of French cuisine. After having served in the military, met and married her husband, Paul Child, and relocated to France, Julia began taking French cooking courses, determined to learn the French language and improve her skills in the kitchen. Julia learned more than cooking as she learned about a new culture, met a new community, and developed a talent for using the art of cooking to expand horizons.

I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed listening to Julia's story while on vacation. One particular recipe for garlic soup that contains fifteen whole cloves of garlic is still stuck in my head. Julia's story is likable and she's far more personal than I expected, disclosing details about her inability to have children, her relationships with her family, and her sweet relationship with her husband.

The book is a light, quick read and definitely inspires audiences to get in the kitchen and try to cook something new.


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