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Mswas’ CBR-III Review #8 – My Life in France by Julia Child

01/29/2011

Another recommendation from a fellow Cannonballer, My Life in France by Julia Child was a sheer delight! Written with her grandnephew Alex Prud’homme, My Life in France is full of  stories of Julia’s life. What could be more entertaining than that?

I loved the scenes in Julie & Julia where Meryl Streep portrayed Julia Child living in France with her loving husband, Paul, and studying at the Cordon Bleu. Of course Streep’s performance was incredibly engaging, but the source material of Julia Child’s life  is rich and vibrant and well told in this autobiography.

Julia’s love for the various food, recipes and techniques is just as vivid as her love for France and, of course, Paul.

When I wasn’t at school, I was experimenting at home, and became a bit of a Mad Scientist. I did hours of research on mayonnaise, for instance, and although no one else seemed to care about it, I thought it was utterly fascinating.  When the weather turned cold, the mayo suddenly became a terrible struggle, because the emulsion kept separating, and it wouldn’t behave when there was a change in the olive oil or the room temperature. I finally got the upper hand by going back to the beginning of the process, studying each step scientifically, and writing it all down. By the end of my research, I believe, I had written more on the subject of mayonnaise than anyone in history. I had made so much mayonnaise that Paul and I could hardly bear to eat it anymore, and I took to dumping my test batches down the toilet. What a shame. But in this way I had finally discovered a foolproof recipe, which was a glory!

Isn’t her delight infectious?

Adding to the story’s  joie de vivre are Paul’s photographs.  Rather than putting them all together in plates in the center of the binding, the images are interspersed with the text. This technique is incredibly effective, and I applaud the choice. Though a bit of print quality is sacrificed due to the non-glossy paper, the incorporation of the images with the text is really marvelous.  Paul has an artist’s eye, and the  images are lovely.

Julia in their tiny Paris kitchen.

 

The view from their later apartment in Marseilles.

They weren’t all of Julia, of course, there are some lovely photos of French architecture, city life, and the countryside, but they aren’t online as far as I could find. The best one, though, is the picture from their 1952 Valentine’s card, the two of them in the tub.

Wish You Were Here.

This is one of several Valentine’s cards, as the Childs favored them over Christmas cards.

“Valentine cards had become a tradition of ours, born of the fact that we could never get ourselves organized in time to send out Christmas cards.”

I get the feeling that the Childs would have been a blast to spend time with.  I know the book was – I didn’t want it to end!

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One comment

  1. I love, love, loved this book, too!!



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