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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

My Life in France

My Life in France - Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme This is Julia Child's autobiography. It provides family details about her growing up years in Pasadena, California and continues into her marriage to Paul Child and their early years living in France. She says that the early years of her marriage and their life in Paris were some of her happiest years. Julia discovers her passion for French food and cooking when she and Paul move to Paris. Paul is there for his job with the USIS, a US agency devoted to "public diplomacy". While they live in Paris, Paul introduces her to the culture, the people, the food, and the whole experience that is France. She is transformed at last with a purpose in life, to master the art of French cooking! The unfolding pages show the developing friendship Julia has with Simone Beck (Simca), and Louisette Bertholle. Eventually their collaboration results in the publication of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1 and 2", a 2 volume work that is considered one of the most influential works in American cookbook history. Julia eventually moves back to the US and launches one of the most successful television cooking programs, "The French Chef". This biography provides DETAILED information of the lengthy and difficult birthing of the cookbooks, "Mastering" and "Son of Mastering", as she called the two volume set. This is a very interesting book, especially if you are a foodie (almost every recollection she has of a trip or a visit from someone includes everything that they ate!), and also if you are interested how the "Mastering" cookbooks were written. Many French recipes differed from place to place or even restaurant to restaurant. Julia had a very exact and almost scientific method for writing recipes and then testing them over and over again until she had fully documented the wonderful French recipes such that anyone could cook them! I was fasincated at her dogged determination to "track down" and "write down" these recipes, realizing that she was literally preserving many of these recipes. A rather sad, but honest portion of the book deals with her unhappy relationship with her father. Julia was never really challenged or helped to grow by her father. She married Paul when she was 32, and yet admits she was uneducated and was drifting around not knowing what she really wanted to do. Paul loved and supported her wholeheartedly, helping her to think and look and do and find what she was interested in. Eventually, her passion was discovered and that of course was French food and French cooking. It kind of makes sense that her father, whom she said did not like Paul or his politics, gets the "fuzzy end of the lolly pop" in the book, because of course she adored her husband. Yet interestingly enough, the things she criticizes her father for (being critical of the French and grouping them all together in a stereotypical way), she seems to do as well! She, loving the French people, is quick to defend them and explain their various regional differences, politics and special quirks. On the flip side, she comments on Americans with a "one size fits all" approach. I also have lived abroad and experienced the joys of living in another culture, but it did not make me unhappy with America, rather it made me thankful to be one and to understand that just as "all Frenchman are cowards and boors" is not a true statement, neither is the gross overstatement that "all Americans are fat and ignorant". I found her anger at her father's stereotypes rather strange since she demonstrates the same tendency towards stereotypes but only against different categories of people. Perhaps she was not so different from her father? One of the most encouraging and sweet aspects of the book has to do with the strong and joyful love Paul and Julia shared for each other in their marriage. She adored him, and he adored her. He supported her for many years in finding her passion, and supported her in many practical ways along the years -- taking pictures of her cooking so that diagrams could be drawn for her book, becoming a "Cordon Bleu" widower as she spent hours and hours in the kitchen learning to cook. This probably is one of the most wonderful aspects of the book. The strong love of a husband and wife for each other is such a joy to read about, and to see written about with such delight is an encouragement.So I would recommend this book! It has spurred me on to want to read "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and maybe even to try out some of her recipes.