“Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz

Julia Child was an American who became known world-wide as The French Chef. Dearie gives a lively account of how this happened.

Julia grew up in a rich family in California, moving East to graduate from Smith College, work for a while in New York in publishing and taking off during World War II to join a spy agency, posted to Ceylon, later China. Here she met Paul Child, a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps. They discovered a love of food and explored Chinese dishes. They were married and posted to Paris, where this love of food continued. “I was not much of a cook when we were married”, Julia admits. She joined Le Cordon Blue, however, and later, with two friends, ran her own cooking school.

Back in the U.S., Julia and Paul set up house, where they entertained a lot and Julia worked on a cookbook which would be called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. She also went on television, an educational program of PBS, in black and white, and was an instant success. People related to her frankness, her direct way of speaking to them, her lack of embarrassment when the roast chicken fell to the floor and she carried on as if nothing had happened. And eventually she got her own program, called “The French Chef” and became a legend in countries around the world.

“Dearie” really tells the story of America’s coming of age, from the Depression Era to the turbulent sixties and the eventual greening of the American kitchen. But this book is fun to read because of Julia Child’s own charm. It is almost like watching her again showing us a recipe.

Review by Anne McDougall