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August 14, 2004

Julia Child

Dear Vanessa --

I was very sorry to learn that the great Julia Child died today. She was 91, and she passed away only a few miles from where The Wife and I are vacationing.

I'm just thinking out loud, but I find myself wondering if anyone since World War II has had as much impact for the good on American art as she did. By knocking the snobbery out of French cooking and bringing her own enthusiasm and her wonderfully eccentric character into living rooms, she made class and taste accessible and attractive to millions. The food revolution that has transformed middle- and highbrow American eating owes no one a greater debt.

Two small thoughts? I'm no foodie, and I can barely scramble eggs. But The Wife is a wonderful cook; I do know books and publishing; and, FWIW, it seems to me that Julia's The Way to Cook (buyable here) is not only her magnum opus but a masterpiece of bookmaking -- a Rubik's Cube of depth and wisdom comparable to Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language." I also hope this is a good moment to express admiration for the way Julia (and the food crowd that she spearheaded) put over a topnotch cooking-and-eating culture in a country that's often skeptical and dismissive of aesthetics. There's much for American fans of all the arts to learn from her example.

Here's a lovely and merry q&a that Polly Frost did with Julia in 1989.



posted by Michael at August 14, 2004


Rest in peace, Julia. A wonderful woman, a wonderful life, and a great gift to the rest of us.

Posted by: C. S. Froning on August 16, 2004 10:10 AM

I love her because she was such a great example of not judging a book by its cover---she was this tall, kind of ungainly woman with a shrill voice who turned out to be an artist of a very elegant skill. Very nice.

Posted by: annette on August 16, 2004 12:45 PM

Julie of "Julie/Julia Project" web log came out of retirement to post this nice piece on Ms. Child.

Posted by: Val Ann C on August 17, 2004 10:02 PM

Merry. That's the perfect word for her, Michael. The world to me feels a little less merry now that she's gone.

Posted by: Vanessa Del Blowhard on August 18, 2004 12:39 PM

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