November 24, 2020
Julia Child was much more than a bestselling cookbook writer and chef. Did you know that she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy throughout her life?
Julia Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services, think CIA 1.0. She started as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division; by working hard, Julia moved up the ladder to the OSS Registry chief. Getting this position meant Julia had a top-level security clearance.
This is where she met Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.
When the war was over, Julia and Paul Child chose to take a "few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes." They visited family and traveled before marrying.
Julia remembered she was "extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before." Julia had to wear a bandage on her face for her wedding photos.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking transformed home cuisine when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't occur overnight. Child first began work on her famous cookbook in 1952, after meeting Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.
This pair of French women worked on a cookbook intended to teach Americans the Art of French cuisine. Child represented the voice of the American chef as the third author. After nine years of research, rewrites and dismissals happened before the cookbook found a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.
Julia Child's big Television break began from an unlikely beginning: Boston's local tv station. While supporting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child was a guest on the program I've Been Reading.
Instead of sitting down and discussing recipes, Child began cracking eggs into a pan and cooking them on a hot plate she carried with her. She made an omelet while filming and answered questions; the viewers loved it.
Julia Child's doctors requested a mastectomy in the late 1960s following a regular biopsy that came back cancerous. She was depressed after her 10-days in hospital. Her husband, Paul, was a mess during all of Julia's health issues.
Eventually Julia became outspoken about her procedure, hoping that it would eliminate the stigma for other women. In Time Magazine, Child was quoted saying, "I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it's not worth it."
All of Julia Childs's tools were kept in a "SACRED BAG" According to a 1974 article in the New Yorker, Child traveled with a huge black canvas bag called the "sacred bag." No, not blessed artifacts, the bag held the cooking tools she couldn't survive without.
The sacred bag held her pastry-cutting wheel, her personal flour scoop, knives, with other special cooking tools. She started carrying this bag when The French Chef premiered and only trusted special people with its care.
You can learn more about Julia Child by reading one of her many cookbooks I have in stock. Her knowledge, personality, and love of food shine through the recipes. Enjoy!
Reading Vintage has many cookbooks in the Recipes and Cookbook collection that you will find very informative and unique.
Pam of Reading Vintage
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