Happy Birthday, Julia
Her Legacy Lives On
By MM Pack, 11:30AM, Fri. Aug. 17, 2012
Julia Child would have been 100 years old this week. I think she would've enjoyed the commemorative hoopla throughout the food world, from the new Smithsonian exhibit featuring her Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen
to the ongoing PBS celebration of her memorable cooking shows from the 1960s.
In addition to her many cookbooks, there have been a number of books published about Child in the past few years. My favorite remains My Life in France, her memoir told to her husband's great-nephew, Alex Prud'Homme. Now I'm enjoying reading the brand new biography, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz (Knopf, 2012). Spitz was her friend and sometime traveling companion; he wrote the book with Julia's blessing and he's a chatty, interesting teller of stories.
I had the pleasure of meeting Julia once and shaking her hand. The occasion was my graduation from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco--she was the surprise guest speaker at the ceremony. She was well into her 80s by then and beginning to show some frailty; her six-foot-two frame was a bit stooped and she clearly husbanded her energy. But her spirit remained indomitable; in a kelly green suit that complemented her russet hair, she delivered an inspiring and entertaining commencement speech.
In an intimate reception for just Julia and the graduates, someone asked her for what, among all her accomplishments, would she most like to be remembered. She deliberated. "I think," she said in her inimitable, fluting voice, "I should like to be remembered as a Food En-THUUUS-iast!" Right on, Julia. We remember and celebrate.