Monday, September 4, 2017

"Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz Review

I had no damn idea how to cook as a young woman, and even eventually as a wife and first-time mother. 

I didn't have the family needed to show me those things. Those of us who don't have exposure to that are at a serious disadvantage in the kitchen. 

I learned a lot from my husband, who completely was at home while over the stove or the grill. I even had to learn from him how to shop for groceries! Yeah, I was that hopeless. And the rest? I learned from PBS. 

I kind of wish I was kidding, but I'm not. It was only then that I learned who Julia Child was, mostly through one of the most informative and entertaining segments I'd ever seen on food, Julia & Jacques: Cooking At Home. It focused quite a bit on technique and covered a wide variety of foods.

I was lucky to be able to view all kinds of different cooking shows from all over the world. I'm not a chef now, or even a talented home cook, but I think I have done alright thanks to the enormous amount of cooking information we have at our fingertips. The Food Network, cook books for everything you can imagine, food bloggers. All of it is amazing.

And one of the most influential cooks that ever gave us a recipe is Julia Child,  and she is still a giant, even among the vast information on how to prepare and enjoy food we have now.

"Dearie" is a long read, it's a long comprehensive work about the inner workings of Julia's life.

The beginning of it, reading that Julia was a California rich girl, kind of phased me. While I'm not sure she would have been able to be who she was without that financial comfort, you always kind of want to believe your heroes start like everyone else.

Spoiler-she didn't.

You get to read about her antics as a teenager, and her listlessness-the kind of listlessness that sets in for young women when we don't know WHAT THE HELL we are supposed to be doing with our lives, and her early life in government work that placed her as far away as India (but into the reach of Paul Child).

The most fascinating parts of the book are definitely the early years of assembling "Mastering" and her first television appearances. This book, as it says, does cover her life. It details things I didn't hear about, like her support of Planned Parenthood. Her support of new and young chefs as the culinary landscape here in American changed.

And it covers the sadder things, like Paul's commitment into a home. Then even sadder things, like friends and lovers dying as they tend to do as one gets into a certain age bracket. These parts of the book are no less interesting. But they will break your heart.

I definitely recommend the "My Life in France" book and "The French Chef in America". Those are up close, intimate accounts.

This, on the other hand, is exactly what it says it is. A sweeping story of the life of someone who changed the world for cooking, and for women. It's detailed in a way that something a little removed can only be, and that's what makes it a good read. It isn't where I would start as far as books on Julia go, but it should be on the reading list for fans.

I'll stop reviewing Julia related books now, I swear. Probably. 

But if I can get my hands on Bob Ross biographies,  I will never, ever shut up. 

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