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all about joy

Julia Child

Born in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912, to an upper-middle-class family, Julia barely knew how to boil water when she graduated with a history degree from Smith College in 1934. She aspired to be either a novelist or basketball player.

During World War II Julia served with the Office of Strategic Services (later the CIA), first in Washington, then in Ceylon and China. It was during this period that she met her future husband, Paul Child. When they married, her family gave her a copy of the 1943 Joy of Cooking and a subscription to Gourmet magazine. With these two publications, Julia learned to cook. After World War II, Paul was assigned to the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy in Paris where Julia furthered her culinary skills, studying at the Cordon Bleu, one of France's premier cooking schools.

In collaboration with her two French colleagues, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, she wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This classic text and her long-running PBS show "The French Chef" helped persuade millions that they too could cook classic French cuisine.

She met Irma Rombauer in Paris in the fifties, and communicated with Marion through the mail during the sixties and seventies. Of the 1975 edition, she proclaimed it "number one on my list...the one book of all cookbooks in English that I would have on my shelf--if I could have but one." In 2001, Ethan and Susan Becker enlisted her help in reviewing the outline, content and a few chapters for the 2006 Anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking on which they were working.

Some of Julia Child books include:

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking
  • My Life in France
  • The French Chef Cookbook
  • The Way to Cook
  • Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

See Julia's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The book that started it all. When Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the product of nearly a decade of work, was first released in 1961, it started a revolution. This edition celebrates its 40th anniversary.