Saturday, October 15, 2016

by Alex Prud'homme

Julia Child was bigger than life, literally. At six feet, two inches tall she towered over everyone. This did not stop her from being embraced by so many adoring fans. By the 1960s, she had become America's first lady of French food (the "French Chef"). That was the name she gave to WGBH when she was filming cooking shows for them thinking that she would change it later. It was ironic that an American woman was considered to be such an authority on French food. Julia also did not consider herself to be a chef, but just a cook. For that alone, she wanted to showcase how ordinary people could recreate spectacular cuisine in their kitchens and not be afraid of doing so. In front of the cameras, Julia was a natural and her robust personality endeared her to millions. Today she would be considered the first celebrity chef before that was even popular. By the late 1970s, that is exactly what did happen to her when she distanced herself from the "French Chef" title and reinvented herself as "Julia Child." It was time for her to become more Americanized as the culinary world was changing fast.
There have been several books on Julia Child, including her own memoir, and I have read them all. The French Chef in America is absolutely delightful to read and Alex Prud'homme, her grandnephew, is a terrific writer. (He collaborated with Julia on the previous book My Life in France.) This volume is chock full of fascinating information, trivia, and fun facts. Julia's persona definitely jumps out of these pages. If you're a foodie and just love reading about cooks, get a hold of this spectacular biography. Julia Child was one of a kind and Prud'homme has crafted a rich portrait.
Very highly recommended.