Monday, April 01, 2019

What Did Julia Child Eat?

A quote from As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon, (published 2010):
"The last day we were there [in Paris] we trotted up to Les Halles and bought a 1 ½ lb. fresh foie gras (raw), and 2 fresh truffles about 2 ½ inches in circumferences, and took them down in the train with us to Cannes... That smell of fresh truffles in the compartment was almost suffocating. While at Simca’s we marinated truffles and foie gras in Madeira and Cognac, then poached the truffles in the marinade, cut them into fat sticks, stuck them in the foie gras, wrapped the foie gras in a crépinette (filament cobwebbed with little lines of fat... pig’s cawl), and poached it in a casserole. Quel parfum. Then, after it had cooled and chilled, we all ate it with a spoon... 8 of us, and we ate every bit of it. An unforgettable gastronomic height." (Letter from Julia Child to Avis DeVoto, January 17, 1960, p. 353)
This collection of letters is very fascinating to read. Although I have read several biographies of Julia Child, and the authors used the material from these letters, more or less, reading the words of these two women as they corresponded about the personal details of life and the public events of their time is remarkable. I enjoyed their views on politics, especially as the two of them knew some of the politicians and also knew prominent individuals who were victims of McCarthyism, the great political shame of their time. (Paul Child was himself one of the victims, though this is covered in more detail in other books.) Julia Child's accounts of her enormous labors creating Mastering the Art of French Cooking are fascinating as well. But I liked this quote with its revelation of how much Julia Child simply liked to eat!

I knew about this book, but I thank my friend Jeanie who blogs at The Marmelade Gypsy for reminding me to read it!

My favorite photo from the book: Julia Child in her Paris kitchen,
some time before 1954.


Jeanie said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying it, Mae. I found it fascinating and also couldn't help but think how much paper they used writing these letters and sending them across the sea! I don't know if Julia's arrived faster (if Paul could get them out under state department/faster mail) but certainly it took awhile for Avis' to arrive. I remember sending and receiving letters from Europe in the 1960s and it took a good couple of weeks! It's a profoundly intimate correspondence as they share so many details of their lives -- the joys and the worries. I miss letters like that.

Tina said...

I knew about this book too but I haven't read it. Sounds interesting. I like the photo of tall Julia standing over that little stove.

I'd read she tried to go in the military but was deemed too tall!

Iris Flavia said...

Oh, I love truffles!!!! Hubby and colleagues hate the smell, though.
Isn't there also a movie about her?

Unknown said...

I love letter books too because of how they reveal both the times and the person's thinking and also the relationship between the person and their friend or loved one. I just picked up the 1970 edition of Mastering the art of French Cooking, volume 2 by Julia Child at the thrift store. It's heavy! Surprising that there is also a volume 1 out there too. Her letters sound like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing.
Mary (CactusCatz)

Jenny Woolf said...

Julia looks so slim and elegant and accomplished. Looking at the photo of her in her kitchen I feel I'd like to try some of her creations; they'd have to be elegant too!

Beth F said...

I remember reading this book ... it was really interesting. Letter writing is definitely a lost art.

Carole said...

What a tall streak she was! Cheers from Carole's chatter