Celebrating JC100 with Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child
This is a very special year for foodies. It’s the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday! In honor of this momentous occasion, our friends in the Random House adult division have set up a variety of ways for fans to celebrate her birth and life, including the Julia Child Facebook page, a JC100 Pinterest board, the @JC100 Twitter account and a #JC100 hashtag, featuring 100 Moments of Julia Child leading up to the August 15th centenary and much more.
Adult readers will enjoy a wonderful new biography of Julia Child called Dearie by author Bob Spitz, available today. Families and schools have a Julia biography of their own, Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child, written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland. This is a charming picture book biography, full of facts about Julia’s childhood and adult life. It’s witty and comprehensive and will delight readers of all ages. Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Jessie to the blog to share more about how Julia inspired her.
Whooping it up on black and white TV years before food shows had their own network was Julia Child, of course. Even people who didn’t cook watched Julia. And kids like me growing up in the 1960s eating TV dinners, frozen pot-pies and ring-dum-ditty liked watching someone cook who actually enjoyed it.
Later, as a tall and gawky teenager I hungrily worked after school in my town’s only“fancy-foods” store, then headed off to art school in Boston and summers working as a cook in various restaurant kitchens–always with Julia in the back of my mind. Would Julia, who lived nearby in Cambridge, come in to dine?
Now, as a writer and illustrator of mostly non-fiction books for children, I couldn’t resist taking a stab at a graphic biography of one of my all-time favorite people. And what a life Julia led! From growing up in California, an awkward and rebellious tomboy…to working for the OSS during WW II…to earning a degree from the Cordon Bleu while a young American bride in Paris…to writing perhaps the most important cookbook ever…to becoming the pioneering star of her own TV show, Julia was a true original. I’ve done my best to capture her intrepid, joyous life in my new book,“Bon Appétit: the Delicious Life of Julia Child.”
To research the book, I traveled to France and zig-zagged the country, by train and by car from Brittany and Normandy, through Paris, down to Provence. I screeched to a stop in front of a nougat factory in Montelimar, petted goats at a chevre farm in Normandy, bought a coarse pepper grinder and a fish-filleting knife at Dehillerin, in Paris; sipped and sampled bubbly on the Moet + Chandon Champagne tour in Epernay and went deep-sea fishing off Brittany. I left a trail of dreadful high-school French all over the famous farmer’s market in Nice, (where Julia shopped fluently) then drove up into the hills to the tiny town of Plascassier, where Julia and Paul had a house.
And of course I ate well: moules-frites in Paris, soupe au poisson in Villesfranche-sur-Mer, poulet-fricassee near Uzes, Provence; soupe au pistou in Biot, the perfect jambon cru sandwich in Chartres, and a rich and creamy ile flotante in Ceret.
After the trip abroad, I gleefully plunged in and read everything I could about Julia and watched every old episode I could find of her TV shows, especially important for the illustrations. I tried to pick out some details of her life I thought children would most like: size 12 feet, mud-pie throwing, a truffle-hunting poodle, a car named Tulipe Noire and a tricky 32 step, pickled udder-and-pimiento-decorated galantine recipe.
Everything Julia Child did, she did with joie de vivre. Messy, gangly, quirky and adventurous. She broke the mold. She followed her heart. A terrific model for children.
Bon Appétit! As Julia liked to say, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
How will you celebrate JC100? We’d love to hear!