Julia Child was a cultural icon who single-handedly brought French cuisine and French cooking techniques to the heart of Americans. And while it was her passion and ties to France that inspired her to do these things, she was hardly known to most French people before the movie came out!
Despite the fact that Julia received a Legion of Honor in 2000, relatively few people in France actually know who she was. My husband cooks, adores cooking, has a lot of French cookbooks, and had never heard of her.
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So with all the publicity for the film opening in Paris, it has brought her cooking, her book (which has never been translated into French), and her legacy into mainstream discussion. Here is a great article on the topic too from the New York Times.
But really, it is not important how she was viewed in France before. This movie has now shown the French how much their food and their culture were (and are) truly adored by Americans. All before the problems with wars and “freedom fries” and definitely still today.
It warmed my heart to see the scenes of pure, unadulterated enjoyment of simply eating! And if my husband’s reaction to the Julia Child portion of the movie – feeling proud and honored that she loved French food and culture to the extent that she worked years to bring it to the American people – then I am sure that the rest of France will feel the same.
I particularly like the comment in the NY Times article above when Julie Andrieu, a French television personality and cookbook author, who after watching Julie & Julia felt compelled to go home and make boeuf bourguignon according to Ms. Child’s recipe. She said, “I cut the flour in half, and it turned out to be the best I had ever made.”
Some people still complain that French food is too rich – too much butter, too much fat. But everything in life, and as Mireille Guiliano has written about in her book French Women Don’t Get Fat, everything in moderation. Besides, Julia Child and her husband, Paul, smoked, drank, and ate Julia’s French food their entire lives and died at the ripe old age of 91 and 92 – how can you dispute that?
I did write about 5 things that the movie taught me about life and would love to hear what you thought when you saw the movie and learned about Julia Child’s ties to France.
Also, if you are visiting Paris, you may want to follow in her footsteps. Here is Julia Child’s Paris.