Bon Appétit — Google Doodle Pays Tribute to 100th Birthday of Remarkable Cooking Legend Julia Child (video)
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on August 15, 2012
Today would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday, and Google has posted on its homepage a doodle of the cooking legend to commemorate her. Born on August 15, 1912, the TV cooking legend passed away just two days shy of her 92nd birthday on August 13, 2004.
Julia has been an inspiration for me since I was young. I’ve watched (and re-watched) and learned so much from her various cooking TV shows, either from aired PBS reruns or tapes and DVDs I’ve borrowed from the public library. Child made everything she did in the kitchen look easy and fun. Even daunting French cooking. When she’d occasionally goof up a technique or a dish on her popular television cooking shows, she’d always laugh it off, making her all the more human and endearing to her legion of fans. Her passion for food and her easygoing personality was a natural for the fledgling television industry.
Because of Julia, I’m an avid collector of her beloved Descoware cookware, which I find at thrift stores, yard sales, and online sources. The enamel-on-cast-iron cookware company was bought up by Le Creuset in the 1970s, and a few years later, was discontinued. Many of Le Creuset’s current cookware and bakeware pieces resemble the styles and colors of Descoware during the height of its popularity during the 1950s and 1960s. Most of my prized Descoware pieces are more than a half-century old and still look great and cook beautifully — the flame-red gradient color is my favorite, but I love my sky blue Dutch oven and use it at least twice a week. I also own several of Child’s remarkable cookbooks.
While I’m no master chef, I attribute my husband’s glowing critiques of the thousands of meals I’ve cooked for him over the past 26 years in part to the influence Julia has had on me as a home cook.
On my Frugal Café main website and here on the blog, I’ve written several pieces about Child (some postings include her philosophies about cooking, tips in the kitchen, and a few of her recipes), so check them out when you have a moment.
Happy 100th birthday, Julia — God bless you. She may be gone, but she’s not forgotten.
JULIA CHILD MEMORIES: BON APPÉTIT! | Preview | PBS
Tribute article to Julia Child, written by Julia Moskin at New York Times — here’s the opening: The Gifts She Gave, The Julia Child Recipes Home Cooks Still Make:
When aspiring young food writers ask how I learned the trade — Was culinary school the first step? A journalism degree? Apprenticeship in a three-star kitchen in France? — I brace myself to disappoint them. I didn’t do any of those (extremely practical and admirable) things.
“The thing is,” I begin, “I was named after Julia Child.”
Child was born 100 years ago Wednesday, and without her, the phrase “aspiring food writer” would probably have never been uttered in the United States. Being named for her was certainly a nudge in the direction of food, but I didn’t grow up with a silver spoonful of chocolate mousse in my mouth. I simply watched my parents make dinner (sometimes beef bourguignon, more often burgers) and absorbed their notion that food was interesting and entertaining, not just fuel.
This didn’t happen in many New York families in the 1970s. Parents who did cook served meals of “wheatloaf” and carob cake; those who didn’t were busy raising their consciousnesses while the children ordered in Chinese food.
Today, the “family dinner” (preferably home cooked, from responsibly sourced ingredients) is widely considered a necessity, and even toddlers have favorite chefs.
It was Child — not single-handedly, but close — who started the public conversation about cooking in America that has shaped our cuisine and culture ever since. Her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published in 1961, just as trends including feminism, food technology and fast food seemed ready to wipe out home cooking. But with her energy, intelligence and nearly deranged enthusiasm, Child turned that tide.
Today, in an age of round-the-clock food television and three-ingredient recipes, her book strikes many cooks the way it does the writer Lisa Birnbach, who told me: “Here’s the thing about Julia Child and me. While she has been a figure in my life for a long time, I have never actually used her cookbook.”
Indeed, it can be daunting. Not only are many recipes long and detailed, but they often call for ingredients that are no longer easy to find, like ground thyme and frying chickens, and equipment like ramekins and asbestos mats. Her insistence that tomatoes be peeled, chickens trussed and eggs beaten with a fork, not a whisk (all elements of the professional training she imbibed) now seems needlessly persnickety.
But in its fundamental qualities, the book and its many successors in the Child canon aren’t dated at all. Their recipes remain perfectly written and rock-solid reliable. And many home cooks, including me, have a Julia Child recipe or two that will always be a part of their repertory. They are recipes that, unlike her cassoulet, come together in minutes, not days.
Julia appeared with David Letterman in 1987 on Late Night with David Letterman. She’s a masterful ad libber, thinking quickly on her feet while cameras are rolling, as delightfully demonstrated in the vintage TV clip below (love her improvised use of the blow torch, since Letterman had no stove available for her to use). There are several inside jokes about Good Morning America.
David Letterman – Julia Child (1987)
Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home – Series Highlights
Popular TV chef and author Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. In 1948, she moved to France where she developed a penchant for French cuisine. With a goal of adapting sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans, she collaborated on a two-volume cookbook called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was considered groundbreaking, and has since become a standard guide for the culinary community. She also become a television icon with her popular cooking shows such as The French Chef. Julia Child was also the inspiration behind the 2009 film Julie & Julia, which was based on a cooking blog by Julie Powell.
Here’s an interview with Powell: