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Who could have guessed that one of the most unforgettable Americans to come out of the 1960s would be Julia Child? And who could have guessed that we’d be as interested in her life as in her cooking? I’ve watched only the first episode so far of this new series, but clearly it’s going to be a romp — smart, funny, and a very nice period piece as well.

In spite of her popularity, though, I can’t help but wonder just how much Julia Child ultimately affected American cooking. So many Americans can’t (and don’t) cook. City chefs struggling to distinguish themselves look much farther afield than Julia Child for inspiration. And what’s offered in provincial and backroads eateries, I would testify, has been going steadily downhill since our grandmothers’ time, with cheap ingredients and untrained, poorly paid cooks who have no concept of what good food is like and what to aim for. I don’t know if it’s true, but a friend once told me that Americans spend more time watching cooking shows than they do cooking. I can believe it, though.

Judging from the first episode, in this series we’re more likely to find Julia at the dinner table with her guests than slaving over a hot stove, the better to support the very cosmopolitan dialogue. And the English actress Sarah Lancashire very much conveys one of the important things we learned from Julia Child — that cooking is playful, fun, never fussy, and is best done with a glass of wine close at hand. By the way, what happened to conviviality in America? Once upon a time, people actually tasted each other’s cooking and could say who made the best biscuits or fried chicken.

Don’t overlook the typewriters! Take note of her cherry-red Volvo, which she washes in her Cambridge driveway because “it won’t wash itself.” Her collection of copper pots is impressive. And what a diplomat she was (like her husband).

Julia can be streamed from HBO Max.


  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    I agree…though I like to think myself a cook, I look to my wife for help always. I’ve learned through the pandemic it is fun to cook, looking up recipes that are easy for me. I follow a Mexican cook Patty Jinch, Cooks Country Kitchen and a few others. Thanks for your insight

    Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 11:12 pm | Permalink
  2. Malinda wrote:

    David: I’ve wanted to comment before when you’ve mentioned Julia. 🙂

    ‘My Life in France’ is a book I dearly love and ‘Julie and Julia’ is a movie I adore, so this new show looks like a peach. Julia threw herself into the ‘Art of French Cooking’ the way NASA scientists threw themselves into the LEM design. I love her tenacity and taste in everything, and her sweet marriage, homes, and authenticity is its own rendered fairytale.

    Perhaps she accidentally gave rise to the dreamy state of ‘wishful cooking’ (I too, have her ‘Art of . . . ‘ but don’t use it as often as I’d like) but sometimes it’s a simple pleasure to enjoy someone else’s zest and ability for pulling something off when you haven’t the means or moment to dabble in it yourself.

    Julia is *the* bon vivant par excellence, isn’t she? But she was the antithesis of snobbery at the same time, which is why so many (myself included) still miss her.

    Also, can I just say that Nora Ephron took the very rough work in the book ‘Julie and Julia,’ saw its sparkling potential, and whipped it into a confection that’s at once charming and miraculous (and perfect to cozy to on rainy days). I never tire of Nora’s movies and her books. She captured Julia with Meryl so essentially.

    Can’t wait to try this new take on Julia as well.

    Sunday, May 1, 2022 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Malinda: The screenwriters do a great job of bringing us a Julia Child who is never snobby and always kind and diplomatic. She and her husband must have been alike that way. I have not read “My Life in France,” but I can’t help but wonder how Parisians treated her, since she was an American.

    Sunday, May 1, 2022 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  4. Malinda wrote:

    Hi David: I’ve watched seven episodes of ‘Julia’ and I’m so pleased with it. I really hadn’t expected Sarah Lancashire to embody Julia as well as she has, wow. Not only did she get the mannerisms down but the voice is so spot on, it defies belief a bit. I’m so giddy too that this show is telling the chapter in Julia’s life we’ve not seen before with her foray into TV hostess. I never thought anyone but Meryl could do as good a job in the role but Ms. Lancashire proved me wrong. She’s a marvel for sure. I hope she gets showered with awards.

    It’s my impression that the French were initially dismissive to Julia, the tall American, in the first days but as she threw herself into the French language, culture, and especially food — the people of her neighborhood warmed and came to adore her and adopt her quickly. This might also be due to the fact she could win almost anyone over (except it seems from the show, Betty Friedan; that was super unfortunate, and as a person who supports feminism that’s not misandry, I would add shortsighted as well as unfair. She added much needed spice and imagination and effervescence to countless lives.)

    Anyway cheers to ‘Julia.’ Bebe Neuwirth is also so fun as Avis.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  5. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Malinda: I just watched episode 5, the San Francisco episode. Two episodes to go, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. The scripts and dialogue are wonderful. I’m a bit surprised at HBO Max. I don’t really get my money’s worth from HBO Max because their stuff is usually so lowest-common-denominator, and “Julia” will go right over a lot of heads. I agree; I hope HBO and the cast gets lots of awards so we can hope for more like it.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

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