My Beef With Julia Child
The author’s long and complex relationship with the culinary icon.
As soon as I received a review copy of The French Chef in America, Alex Prud’homme’s new intricately and intriguingly detailed biography of his delicious, good-naturedly opinionated great-aunt, Julia Child, I went right to the index in hopes of finding my name. That would mean that some of our meetings and exchanges had been worth chronicling for posterity.
I suspect this will be standard practice for anyone in the food world whose paths crossed those of the woman whose TV cooking shows brought perfect understanding of French cuisine to all of America.
Sure enough there were several mentions, the longest of which recalled the most defining experience, one that colored our entire relationship ever after. The date was July 8, 1976, just a few months after I arrived at The New York Times and, as I recall, before I ever had met Julia. The event was a state dinner at The White House given by President and Mrs. Gerald Ford to mark our bicentennial with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as the guests of honor. (Come to think of it, it was a sly reminder that “We won. You lost.”)