Julia Child's Influence on American Cuisine

There is no question that Julia Child (1912-2004) had a profound impact on American home cooking and restaurants' menu choices. Chef, author, cooking instructor and TV personality, she changed the way people approached shopping for and preparing food. 

Julia had a privileged childhood, completed college and worked in various positions until World War II. She moved to Washington D.C. and volunteered as a researcher at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner of the CIA. She had the highest level security clearance and worked with top secret documents in many different countries, including Sri Lanka, where she met her future husband, Paul Child. They returned to America and married after the war ended.

Paul was assigned to the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy in Paris and they moved to France in 1948. Julia, who had been an indifferent cook up to then, fell in love with French food and the cultural zest with which it was selected and presented. She enrolled in the  prestigious Cordon Bleu culinary institute and got her degree as the only woman in her class. 

She and two friends, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, formed the cooking school L'Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands) with classes held in Julia's kitchen. They decided to write a book aimed at bringing French food to American audiences. The book, "Mastering The Art of French Cooking" took nine years to finish and was a groundbreaking cookbook for Americans.

Cover of first edition of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Returning from Paris, the Childs moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. On a book promoting tour, Julia was offered the opportunity to create the first TV cooking show. "The French Chef"  ran from 1963 to 1973 with reruns lasting for years. Julia went on to write dozens of books and several other televised series. All 10 seasons of Child’s first show are available to watch through Amazon Prime or PBS’ streaming platform, Passport, which you can access if you are a member of your local station.

Some of Julia's wisdom and wit are showcased with these quotes.

Have you explored French cooking? Think about what as changed in the American way to shop and cook since 1963. Foods that used to be extremely seasonal are much more accessible year round in grocery stores. Farmer's markets have sprung up all over the country.  More Americans are eating fresh food that has been minimally processed. Americans are exposed to foods from many different cultures and some have started making those recipes at home. So explore something new and expand your culinary horizon! 

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy. Dining is not a fuel stop, it is recreation." Julia Child


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