Thursday, May 10, 2007

Julia Child by Laura Shapiro

Did you know that Julia Child had plastic surgery? Multiple times? I didn't, and I thought that was going to be the only new information I learned from this book which is part of the Penguin Lives series. These books are short, less than 200 pages and I wondered how much one could learn about someone in such a short book. I've read My Life in France which was written by Child and her nephew and it was a wonderful memoir but I wanted to read something more objective.

The book covers Julia's early life, her relationship with Paul Child, the BOOK, the television shows, and finally the aftermath. The final 2 chapters made the book worthwhile. Julia's prejudice against homosexuals is described at length. It turns out Julia was a supporter of MSG, canned food when prepared correctly, and the various government food boards and councils which support industrial farming. She was opposed to the organic, local, sustainable food movement, calling it's advocates 'cultists'. I find this all so fascinating, coming from a woman who lived to cook and eat. Apparently she believed simple preparations were boring, and ingredients, irregardless of quality, could taste wonderful when prepared well.

All in all, I found this a quick read, and ultimately enlightening about Julia's views.

I will include this as my first entry in the Non-fiction Five Challenge.


Cornflower said...

I know almost nothing about Julia Child, so this is very interesting.
I've just got (but not started) a nicely chunky biography of M.F.K. Fisher which looks promising.

Tara said...

Karen, Julia is quite revered here in the States, but I don't imagine she's as well known elsewhere. She was a fascinating woman. The M.F.K. Fisher book does sound promising. I've read one of her memoirs and part of The Art of Eating; I really enjoy her writing.

Nan said...

There's another biography called An Appetite For Life by Noel Riley Fitch that I read and enjoyed very much. I bought My Life In France but I haven't read it yet. I heard her speak in her last years and so enjoyed it. I know that she wasn't a big organic food fan, but the other stuff was news to me; and not good news at that. :<(

Tara said...

Nan, I am interesting in reading An Appetite for Life at some point. How exciting that you were able to hear her speak!

Joy said...
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Joy said...

Congratulations Tara! You have won a token gift from the Non-Fiction Five Challenge. You can stop by "Thoughts of Joy..." to see what it is! Please send me your snail mail to non_fiction_five_challenge(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll send it out to you right away. Happy Reading! :)