It's the first Friday of October, and you know what that means! It's time for another edition of BKMG's Badass Women. Today, we will be taking a look at the woman who actually inspired this whole project, the one, the only, Julia Child.
If you are under the age of 50 you are probably thinking, "Julia Child? The cooking lady? Didn't Meryl Streep play her in a slightly bad movie once upon a time?" And the answer to both those questions is, yes. Although, the movie you are thinking of is Julie and Julia and the only part of the movie that is bad is the part with a sad Amy Adams in Queens, the part with Meryl and Stanley Tucci is amazing and should have been it's own movie.
But now that we've gotten through that bit, I'm going to tuck in with some of her famous Coq Au Vin (which I made yesterday) and tell you a bit about Julia Child.
Psst, I made it gluten free by using brown rice flour instead of regular old flour.
The result was nothing short of perfection. Honestly, I'm super impressed with myself.
The temperature dropped literally 30 degrees in a day here in New York, so this is the perfect food to thaw me out.
Born in Pasadena, Ca in 1912, Julia was a member of The Greatest Generation and when The U.S. entered World War II, she jumped up and served her country. She initially wanted to enlist in the Women's Army Corps or the Navy WAVES, but found that at 6 feet 2 inches, she was too tall. She instead joined the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and spent most of the war as a Top Secret Researcher in Sri Lanka. During the war she met Paul Child who would become her husband just after the war in 1946.
And this is where things get good, as if being a Top Secret World War II lady wasn't enough.
After their wedding, Paul was stationed in Paris with the US Foreign Service and he and Julia moved abroad and set up shop. It's at this point that Julia's memoir, My Life in France, begins.
Having been used to working, Julia got quite bored with life as a housewife, especially in a foreign country where she knew no one and did not speak the language. But Julia was an adventurer at heart and was relentlessly positive. She struck out on her own while Paul was at work and found herself falling in love with French Cuisine.
Like many other women of her generation, Julia had been too busy fighting the Nazis to learn to cook, but surrounded by the markets, cafes, and restaurants of Paris, Julia became desperate to learn this art form.
In spite of a language barrier, subpar educational facilities, and a fussy administrator who believe women could not be chefs (only home cooks), Julia excelled at Le Cordon Bleu and made a name for herself among the gastronomes of Paris. She partnered with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle and founded her own cooking school, L'école des trois gourmandes.
During her time in Paris, Julia, Simone, and Louisette began work on a comprehensive cookbook that would introduce Classical French cooking to American home cooks. Julia tirelessly, tested recipes, edited them for an American audience, and translated French to English for nearly ten years.
The book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was finally published in 1961 and became (still is) the most comprehensive and authoritative book on French cooking. Not too shabby for an American who grew up with a cook.
Once settled back in The States, Julia became the first of the celebrity chefs with TV cooking shows like, Julia Child & Company. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Julia continued to bring the fundamentals of cooking into convenience-food-obsessed American homes. But, it was truly Julia's personality that made all of that possible. Her fearless joviality and Puritan work ethic made classical cuisine accessible to Americans and inspired pretty much every American chef thereafter.
While her list of accomplishments is too long for this blog, what inspires me most about Julia Child is that she didn't really care if cooking was what women were supposed to do. She didn't decided to learn to cook because she wanted to please her husband (although she did want to do that too, who wouldn't, husbands are fickle things). She found her passion in the kitchen and in food, and went full speed ahead in developing that passion. She never took no for an answer and when male-dominated and chauvinistic institutions failed her, she created her own. If she saw the path ahead of her was overgrown with weeds and piled high with nonsense, she rolled up her sleeves, got out her trusty carving knife and cleared the damn path for herself, all the while laughing about what fun this adventure was!
Julia child was bold, brave, joyful, and seriously badass.
This is just a very wee peak at the life of Julia Child and I HIGHLY recommend reading her memoir. It's impossible to feel bad when Julia's voice in in your head and I think you'll find yourself viewing the little bumps in the road as an adventure filled with possibility.
Selected Works by Julia Child
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