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Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Julia Child. PBS has this terrific autotuned remix of her stuff. “Cooking, cooking, keep on cooking; this is the way to live.” Love it.

We are getting together with some friends this weekend to have a Julia Child centenary dinner. We’re all making things out of “Mastering The Art of French Cooking.” Our contribution is gigot a la moutarde. I hope some of you will be cooking something in honor of the great lady, and first-rate Francophile. Take photos, let’s do a big Julia Child View From Your Table special.

I love this remembrance by NYT food writer Julia Moskin, whose parents named her after Julia Child. Excerpt:

Child was born 100 years ago Wednesday, and without her, the phrase “aspiring food writer” would probably have never been uttered in the United States. Being named for her was certainly a nudge in the direction of food, but I didn’t grow up with a silver spoonful of chocolate mousse in my mouth. I simply watched my parents make dinner (sometimes beef bourguignon, more often burgers) and absorbed their notion that food was interesting and entertaining, not just fuel.

This didn’t happen in many New York families in the 1970s. Parents who did cook served meals of “wheatloaf” and carob cake; those who didn’t were busy raising their consciousnesses while the children ordered in Chinese food.

Today, the “family dinner” (preferably home cooked, from responsibly sourced ingredients) is widely considered a necessity, and even toddlers have favorite chefs.

It was Child — not single-handedly, but close — who started the public conversation about cooking in America that has shaped our cuisine and culture ever since. Her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published in 1961, just as trends including feminism, food technology and fast food seemed ready to wipe out home cooking. But with her energy, intelligence and nearly deranged enthusiasm, Child turned that tide.

Bless her. Memory eternal! How marvelous to have lived a life that made so many people honestly and usefully happy.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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