My Life in France

my life in france julia childIllegitimus non carborundum est - Don't let the bastards grind you down. This was apparently one of Paul Child's favourite phrases around his 50th birthday. Good advice Paul.

My Life in France is really about Julia Child writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which I've somehow resisted ordering despite desperately wanting to through the reading of this book and Julie and Julia) than about their life in France as just as much of it takes place outside of France as it does in it. But one would not exist without the other. It starts off as Julia and Paul move to Paris shortly after the beginning of their marriage. At the time Julia, then in her late 30s, can barely cook. After moving to France she takes up cooking with passion, if not with skill. She takes a course of cooking at the Cordon Bleu and through various ties and connections meet the people with whom she will write the classic book of French cooking. It takes them through time in Paris, Marseilles, Bonn, Oslo, Washington, New England - they were a busy couple!

It's been a long time since I've seen Julia on TV. I was quite young when her shows were in regular rotation. Plus I lived in two-channel world (I had only two channels until I was about 16 when we moved into town and could get cable). I often forget how funny she was. Her humour comes shining through in this book. One of my favourite lines was "The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear." Yep, that's Julia.

I loved the little bits and phrases of French thrown in here and there. I really do miss French. I ought to do something about that. It was nice to exercise my brain a bit. (If you don't read French don't worry, you really don't need to as things are explained - it was just nice to see.)

In speaking of her budding friendship with Avis De Voto, a friendship formed via letter, she comments, "We had grown really fond of Avis. Odd, to feel as though you knew someone quite well whom you had never met." How many of us today, in the land of the internet, feel that way?

And finally one last gem of Julia wisdom "I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanation over the food you make. When one's hostess starts in with self-depreciation's [...] it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is fine, whether it is or not. Beside, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings..." Thank you Julia. Lesson learned.

A great book for Julia fans.

Bon appétit!