I loved Julia Child. I loved her kitchen in the Smithsonian Museum, I loved Dan Aykroyd’s parody of her on SNL, I loved My Life in France (reviewed here two summers ago), and I loved watching her cooking shows. Now, I don’t cook (my husband, a professionally trained chef, handles that), but I love to eat!! I also love all the things that are considered bad for you, like butter. Julia loved butter. Her advise to Avis: “You could always get a richer flavor to your sauces by ‘buttering them up.’ ”
Okay, the book. It’s wonderful. It’s a collection of letters between Julia and Avis DeVoto from 1952 through 1961. Avis DeVoto was instrumental in getting Mastering the Art of French Cooking published. She was the wife of Bernard DeVoto, an author and longtime columnist for Harper’s magazine. This relationship began when DeVoto wrote a piece in Harper’s about impossibly dull stainless-steel knives. Julia sent him a fan latter, of sorts, along with a paring knife and Avis responded to her letter. The letters are personal, witty, interesting, and such fun to read – there are a couple hundred of them. You learn so much about the culture of the US and France at the time, about access to ingredients and kitchen equipment, and about the lives of both of these interesting women and the people they encountered.
Don’t just rent the movie Julie & Julia (not enough Julia in it, I think), read My Life in France and As Always, Julia. You will want to eat butter, travel back in time to France in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, and watch all of her cooking shows. As Julia would say at the end of each TV show, Bon Appétit!