52 Books in 52 Weeks – Week 2: My Life in France (Julia Child & Alex Prudhomme 2006) and As Always, Julia (Julia Child & Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon 2010)
Well, this week is double the fun! My plan for this week originally was to simply read My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prudhomme. However, when I was at the library, right next to it I saw the book As Always, Julia which is a collection of letters between Mrs. Child and dear friend and confidante Mrs. Avis DeVoto. After reading both, I believe that work beautifully together. (Here is a complete list of the books I will read).
My Life in France covers the time period that Mrs. Child often said was the best time of her life and provides an in-depth and personal view of her evolution from a “gauche” American in Paris to someone who found her spirit, her joy and her passion there. I remember as a child seeing Mrs. Child on TV cooking and more than anything I remember thinking what a larger than life person she was! This books showcases not just her joie de vivre in everything, but it also shows her progression from a person who was not a good (or even a decent) cook to a woman who had the confidence and courage to forever change cooking in America.
Another facet of these two books that I truly appreciated and found fascinating is how they illustrated, over the span of years and decades, the ever changing and growing role of women in society, the workplace and culture!
As Always, Julia is an amazing view into a friendship that was heartfelt and that was so critical to the creation and success of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2. This book is a collection of letters between Mrs. Child & Mrs. DeVoto and provides glimpses into what life was like for them, their struggles, their joys and a friendship that changed the cooking world.
In reading these two books, I found a quote in each that I cannot help but share.
“You never forget a beautiful thing that you have created.” Chef Bugnard to Julia Child
“…if I know anything at all it is that there are no final answers to anything, and the older I get the less final the answers are.” Avis DeVoto to Julia Child (March 20,1953)
Even if you do not care for French cooking or have never attempted a French recipe, you will truly enjoy My Life in France . Also, how can you resist the love and comraderie apparent in the 37 year friendship between Mrs. Child and Mrs. DeVoto in As Always, Julia. Both books are excellent reads and provide excellent cultural insight. Bon Appetit!
Until We Meet Again,