A few of the many reasons that draw me to Julia Child aside from the fact that she’s a tall woman like myself who lived my dream of residing in Paris is her ability to embrace life, ascribing to her own rules and was able to regularly brush off inevitable mistakes and obstacles without letting them pull her down or prevent her from moving forward.
Released this past fall, Karen Karbo’s Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life is the frosting of a biography of Julia Child’s life, touching on all of the intriguing details that defined Julia as the talented, fun-loving, and successful woman who fans have fallen in love with generation after generation. Beginning when Julia was a young girl living in Pasadena, California, and ending when she passes away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 91 (2 days before her 92nd birthday), her last meal it is important to note was French Onion Soup. As Julia’s tale is told, Karbo offers lessons readers can learn from Julia’s journey through her own life such as:
- be yourself
- you don’t have to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have
- when to heed a whim
- all you need is the bedroom and the kitchen
- whatever you do, don’t settle
- throw yourself into it, even if no one cares but you
- do everything humanly possible to avoid housework
- there is no need to reinvent yourself
- try again, fail again, fail better
- still, it’s good to look good
- remember, that being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything
Karen Karbo, the author, lives in Portland, Oregon, and throughout the book she integrates how she came to know and appreciate Julia Child through personal anecdotes beginning with her mothers’ regular viewing of The French Chef dutifully writing down her recipes to enjoy with her own family. I will admit that I quickly skimmed over some in order to race to the next Julia rule, but her tales illustrate how Julia Child engrossed multiple generations and continues to do so today as more servantless cooks find their way into the kitchen and fall in love with perfecting their craft. In fact, upon reading Julia Child Rules, I have put on my reading list From Julia Child’s Kitchen and The Way to Cook both written by “The French Chef” herself and lauded as a perfecting of Julia’s most loved recipes.
So why do people continue to fall in love with Julia long after the publication of her first and most successful publication? Julia’s life, how she lived, was and still is infectious from her whim of a decision to heed President Roosevelt’s call to join the war effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor and joining the OSS (the precursor of the CIA) to organizing her own book tour around the United States for volume one of Mastering the Art of French Cooking as the publisher didn’t hold out great hope for success, Julia seemed to understand that her life was her responsibility to create. She and she alone would be the determiner of her own happiness, and she doesn’t appear to let any opportunity to find her place and dive into her passion pass her by.
To a woman who wrote at the age of 38 upon enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, “How magnificent to find one’s life calling at last!” may Julia inspire us all to embrace who we are and cast aside any limitation – age, stature, societal expectation, etc.
A delightful weekend read I have a feeling you will devour. So as Julia iconically concludes, bon Appétit!
More of Julia Child to enjoy:
~the first episode of PBS’s The French Chef: Boeuf Bourguignon
~a list of all of Julia Child’s books
~Julie & Julia . . . the film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams