“I was 32 when I started cooking; until then I just ate.”
— Julia Kind
Julia Child was born Julia McWilliams, on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. The eldest of three children, at 6 feet 2 inches, Julia was not the tallest of her siblings.
So how could she stand out at all?
First, she could talk the talk and walk the walk, cook and sell a product, and the gift of gab.
Known as “Jukies” to her family, she became Julia Child when she married Paul Child in 1946. And just two days shy of her 92nd birthday, she died, but not before changing the way America, and possibly the world, looked at food, especially French cuisine.
In what some critics are calling the best documentary of 2021, director Julie Cohen and Betsy West, along with a host of smart women, bring the story of “Julia” who fell like a meteor from the sky and crashed into women’s kitchens. packaged, plastic-covered “TV meals” were all the rage.
Her book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” was published in 1961. The beloved cookbook has sold 1.5 million copies since it was published. But at first it did not light up the sky. By 1964 it had sold only 4,000 copies. And 600,000 by 1969.
It was Julia herself who adopted people. She was the first celebrity chef on television, with her show “The French Chef,” and her larger-than-life personality, appearing on one late-night comedy hour after another.
It helped that after tasting her omelet on camera, Johnny Carson planted a kiss on her cheek and said, “I think I love you,” putting her on the bullet train to fame.
Cohen and West fill the 95 minutes with details about this lovely upperclassman with the crazy hair and an infectious giggle.
Like a good witch, she hovers over mouth-watering shots of cooking pots and simmering sauces to conjure up magic. But there is so much more.
You’ll see never-before-seen photos, personal letters, diary entries and insights into her marriage to her husband, OSS agent Paul Child, who devoted his life to her, even getting her cue tickets for cooking show appearances write.
A touching note is included near the end, when Julia is spiraling into depression after her breast cancer scare, which led to a radical mastectomy in 1968, Julia cries to her husband, “How can you love me now?”
“It’s not your breasts that I fell in love with,” he told her, “it’s your beautiful legs that I love.”
“Julia” plays at Waterville’s Railroad Square cinema beginning Thanksgiving Day, November 25.
JP Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.
‘Going in Style’ a soufflé, yes, but a tasty one