The Wisdom of Julia Child


photo by Paul Child

In light of the release of the new movie, “Julie & Julia,” I wanted to share the following excerpt from my book, “Growing Toward Balance: Achievable Ideas for Bringing Harmony to Your Mind, Body and Spirit.” This particular chapter evolved from a blog post I wrote shortly after the death of one of my heroines, Julia Child:

I asked an American friend of mine who has lived in Paris for the past eighteen years to give me her thoughts on this topic. She says, “The French tend to think that humans are pleasure-driven, and meals tend to reflect that mentality. Eating is not taboo, although excess is definitely frowned upon by my French friends. Basically, eating is an accepted fact of life, and I think it can be said that the French seek to enjoy their meals rather than suffer through them.”

“The organization of their work and playtime are based around the meals instead of the other way around. They take the time to eat breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. They have the same mentality about sex.”

In our society, we tend to think of food as a necessary evil, and we try to control what we eat, calculating carbs, fat grams, etc. Amy Finnerty, journalist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a wonderful ode to Julia Child who passed away three days shy of her 92nd birthday. I felt a wave of nostalgia as I remembered back to when I was a child and would watch The French Chef with my mother. I loved Julia’s style, finesse, and the way she would sweep scraps from her counter, seemingly onto the floor. I learned how to make bechamel sauce at a very young age by watching her.

She was all about the enjoyment of food. I remember seeing her on a talk show during the 90s during which she created a wonderful-looking dish complete with two sticks of butter and heavy cream. I don’t remember what the dish was, but I do remember that an audience member asked if she had a low-fat version of that recipe. Her response was, “Whatever for?” She was one of my all-time heroes.

Julia Child has been quoted as saying, “What’s dangerous and discouraging about this era is that people really are afraid of their food…Sitting down to dinner is a trap, not something to enjoy. People should take their food more seriously. Learn what you can eat and enjoy it thoroughly.” As Finnerty says, “She did something more important than teach us to cook; she taught us to eat, and some of us in the new Atkins World Order could still use a few lessons. She knew how to indulge, in moderation: food of all kinds (in normal portions); drink (but not drunkenness); smoking (until she did the mature thing and quit); and the company of men (she was a happily married flirt).”

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