Top positive review
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Inspiring and culturally interesting autobiography
on 25 July 2017
Julia Child's autobiography doesn't just tell the story of a woman whose life was changed (saved, even?) by learning French cuisine. It also recounts the inspiring and challenging experience of two relatively well travelled postwar Americans adapting to the paranoia and insularism of McCarthyism and staying strong.
Julia and Paul Child worked professionally in the "cultural attaché" sector of the US ambassadorial wing, at a time when such work became doubly tainted. Whilst Paul was working to share US culture and propaganda, he was to fall under suspicion of being a spy for the Communists because of his having been posted to "the wrong" countries by earlier administrations. Meanwhile, to save herself from boredom, Julia learns to cook at the Cordon Bleu school and discovers a talent for (literally) translating the cookery of France into a book that works for the American housewife. It's a fascinating view of how the postwar 1950s and 1960s shaped US culinary history at a time when kitchen technology and the media made cookery shows and books an accessible teaching tool for the masses. On this side of the Pond, Elisabeth David and the Electricity and Gas Board Ladies were spreading a similar gospel, but Child became a mass media icon. How she did it is worth reading. Ignore the Julie/Julia hype and read the book, and you're going to have a much better understanding not only of the culinary culture in France but of what shaped the USA in the sixties. It may even shed light on some of the current régime's behaviours...