For a number of years I’ve chosen a “Word of the Year“, as many others do. This year I’m doing something a little different. I’m declaring 2024 “My Year of Julia Child“. I’ve long admired her and I’m going to really delve into her life and her work as America’s “French Chef”.
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My Year of Julia Child
I first became aware of Julia Child as a child. Every once in awhile I’d catch an episode of “The French Chef” on PBS. I grew up in the 60s and 70s when there wasn’t a lot on t.v. This was the same era when I became interested in yoga with Lilias which I’d watch after school in junior high. But that’s a different topic.
My grandfather was an excellent cook and I like to think my interest in cooking was passed down from him. I didn’t grow up near my maternal grandparents so unfortunately I never had the opportunity to learn directly from him. But I do have a number of his cookbooks and lots of family stories.
For instance, the first time he asked my grandmother to marry him, she turned him down. Devastated, he quit high school, went to Alaska and spent a year cooking in a mining camp. I’m sure he gained a lot of cooking experience that year. And probably learned a few other things.
My grandparents, my mom and her older sister lived in Santa Monica, California. Grandpa was one of the early skin divers and the whole family spent most weekends on the beach. Grandpa would bring home abalone and lobsters which he’d then cook. My mom recalls complaining, “Do we have to have lobster agaaaiiin??”.
He was definitely an adventurous cook and would try anything once. Turtle soup was a one-time dish, as I’ve heard.
I can well imagine him watching Julia Child and jotting down notes. He took his varied interests seriously so I feel certain he practiced various cooking techniques until he had perfected them. Oh, how I wish I had been able to cook with him!
Perhaps it’s a wistful bit of nostalgia which has led me to this year’s focus. I hope Grandpa will be pleased and that I’ll be able to enjoy a bit of a connection to him in my kitchen.
My Julia Child Plan
1. First of all, I will watch all ten seasons of The French Chef streaming on Amazon Prime Video. There are 200 episodes so this alone will keep me occupied!
2. Along with her original cooking series, I plan to read several books by or about Julia Child. She wasn’t just a chef but her whole life was quite interesting.
These are the books I plan to read. Although, if you have others to recommend, please share! I’ve read a couple of these in the past but it’s been quite some time ago.
Julia Child: A Life by Laura Shapiro
The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act by Alex Prud’homme
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
3. And of course, I have to watch these:
Julie & Julia (I read the book a couple of years before the movie and have seen it at least twice. Time to watch again!)
I’m rather excited to have learned that there is a new series about Julia!
Julia (currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video)
4. I already have a few of her cookbooks…
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 vol. set)
Cooking With Master Chefs (my daughter and son-in-law gave me a signed copy!)
And I’d like to add a few more to my collection:
5. I’ll spend a bit of time perusing the official Julia Child website:
6. And finally, I plan to cook at least one Julia Child recipe per month. I may share some of them here on the blog, too.
What do you think? Doesn’t that sound like an interesting project for the year? Have you ever done anything similar? If so, I’d love to hear about it. It doesn’t have to be cooking related, but have you ever just zeroed in on a particular topic for a year? Sort of like unit studies in school. I love to learn and firmly believe we can and should keep actively learning as adults.
So here’s to a year of Julia Child. Bon appétit!
You may also enjoy…
A few of my “Word of the Year” posts…