My Life in France (Movie Tie-In Edition)

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 6/23/2009
  • Publisher: Anchor
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Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France. Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Author Biography

Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California. She graduated from Smith College and worked for the OSS during WWII; afterwards she lived in Paris, studied at the Cordon Bleu, and taught cooking with Simone Beck and Louisette Bartholle, with whom she wrote the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). In 1963 Boston's WGBH launched "The French Chef" television series, which made Julia Child a national celebrity, earning her the Peabody Award in 1965 and an Emmy in 1966; subsequent public television shows were "Julia Child & Company" (1978), "Julia Child & More Company" (1980)—both of which were accompanied by cookbooks—and "Dinner at Julia's" (1983), followed by "Cooking with Master Chefs" (1993), "In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs" (1995), and her collaboration with Jacques Pépin, "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" (1999). The 40th anniversary edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 was published in 2001.

Alex Prud'homme is Julia's grandnephew. A freelance writer, his journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, and People. He is the author of The Cell Game and the co-author (with Michael Cherkasky) of Forewarned. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 3
La Belle Francep. 11
Le Cordon Bleup. 61
Three Hearty Eatersp. 113
Bouillabaisse la Marseillaisep. 166
French Recipes for American Cooksp. 209
Mastering the Artp. 242
Son of Masteringp. 274
The French Chef in Francep. 301
From Julia Child's Kitchenp. 317
Epilogue Finp. 329
Indexp. 335
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.



La Belle France

I. Sea Change

At five-forty-five in the morning, Paul and I rousted ourselves from our warm bunk and peered out of the small porthole in our cabin aboard the SS America. Neither of us had slept very well that night, partially due to the weather and partially due to our rising excitement. We rubbed our eyes and squinted through the glass, and could see it was foggy out. But through the deep-blue dawn and swirling murk we spied rows of twinkling lights along the shore. It was Wednesday, November 3, 1948, and we had finally arrived at Le Havre, France.

I had never been to Europe before and didn't know what to expect. We had been at sea for a week, although it seemed a lot longer, and I was more than ready to step onto terra firma. As soon as our family had seen us off in fall-colored New York, the America had sailed straight into the teeth of a North Atlantic gale. As the big ship heeled and bucked in waves as tall as buildings, there was a constant sound of bashing, clashing, clicking, shuddering, swaying, and groaning. Lifelines were strung along the corridors. Up...up...up...the enormous liner would rise, and at the peak she'd teeter for a moment, then down...down...down...she'd slide until her bow plunged into the trough with a great shuddering spray. Our muscles ached, our minds were weary, and smashed crockery was strewn about the floor. Most of the ship's passengers, and some of her crew, were green around the gills. Paul and I were lucky to be good sailors, with cast-iron stomachs: one morning we counted as two of the five passengers who made it to breakfast.

I had spent only a little time at sea, on my way to and from Asia during the Second World War, and had never experienced a storm like this before. Paul, on the other hand, had seen every kind of weather imaginable. In the early 1920s, unable to afford college, he had sailed from the United States to Panama on an oil tanker, hitched a ride on a little ferry from Marseille to Africa, crossed the Mediterranean and Atlantic from Trieste to New York, crewed aboard a schooner that sailed from Nova Scotia to South America, and served briefly aboard a command ship in the China Sea during World War II. He'd experienced waterspouts, lightning storms, and plenty of the "primordial violence of nature," as he put it. Paul was a sometimes macho, sometimes quiet, willful, bookish man. He suffered terrible vertigo, yet was the kind to push himself up to the top of a ship's rigging in a fierce gale. It was typical that aboard the tossing SS America he did most of the worrying for the two of us.

Paul had been offered the job of running the exhibits office for the United States Information Service (USIS), at the American embassy in Paris. His assignment was to help promote French-American relations through the visual arts. It was a sort of cultural/propaganda job, and he was well suited for it. Paul had lived and worked in France in the 1920s, spoke the language beautifully, and adored French food and wine. Paris was his favorite city in the world. So, when the U.S. government offered him a job there, he jumped at the chance. I just tagged along as his extra baggage.

Travel, we agreed, was a litmus test: if we could make the best of the chaos and serendipity that we'd inevitably meet in transit, then we'd surely be able to sail through the rest of life together just fine. So far, we'd done pretty well.

We had met in Ceylon in the summer of 1944, when we'd both been posted there by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. Paul was an artist, and he'd been recruited to create war rooms where General Mountbatten could review the intelligence that our agents had sent in from the field. I was head of the Registry, where, among other things, I processed agents' reports from the field and other top-secret papers. Late in the war, Paul and I were transferred to Kunming, C

Excerpted from My Life in France by Julia Child, Alex Prud'homme
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