Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book: My Life In France

Finished this last night and only just now remembered to blog about it! My mind must have been muddled by tales of creamy sauces and puff pastry.

So, this is Julia Child's telling of her five-and-a-half years in France, plus a bit about her time in Germany and Norway, then the development of The Book and the whirlwind that followed its delayed publication.

After having just read her biography, there wasn't much new here, but it was nice to hear the stories in her own words. However, there were a few paragraphs that I swear were lifted word-for-word from the biography -- I distinctly remembered certain turns of phrase in connection with certain events. Whether this is because the source material (letters, datebooks, etc.) was the same or whether her co-author, her great-nephew, had to pull from other materials to bridge some sections, I don't know. But it doesn't matter, the descriptions of 1950s Paris are lovely no matter what.

I don't mean to knock our beloved Julia but at times she comes across as dreadfully privileged. On the other hand, she really felt it was her duty to teach Americans about good food -- specifically authentic French cuisine. I suppose after a lifetime of being the toast of the food world, one might assume a bit of entitlement.

I felt the same about this book as I did the biography -- the tales of their adventures in France was wonderful, but once the cookbook was published, I started losing interest and felt overwhelmed by the whirlwind of publicity tours, TV shows, subsequent cookbooks, etc. I wonder if that's how it felt to be living it.

This was a really nice read, however. This would be a perfect airplane book; absorbing and interesting, yet not too serious.

However, I definitely NEED the two MTAOFC cookbooks! I would like a couple of beat-up old hardcovers, with favorite recipe pages well-loved. I am very curious to try making the baguette recipe (which had never before been recorded). I've never been to France and so don't know what it tastes like, but I think it sounds like fun to try. I'm always up for a cooking challenge. As long as it doesn't involve meat, I'm game.

Anyway. This was not significantly different from the biography, but it is kind of a 'best-parts' version, so if you're going to read one of them, read this one. It's certainly a fun portrait of a certain time and place in American (and French) cultural history.

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