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My Life in France

Like most people, I became acquainted with Julia Child on WGBH's groundbreaking program, The French Chef. I was already interested in cooking, an activity that, because I was not a girl, was forbidden to me. But for me cooking meant baking, the branch of culinary art that most requires the attentiveness to quantity and texture that I had already developed by playing with my chemistry set in the basement. I was fascinated by white bread. Where did the holes come from? How did pasty dough become airy crumb? In any case, I wasn't about to be entertaining friends at a dinner party any time soon, so what struck me most about Julia Child was what most impressed all non-cooks who found themselves riveted by The French Chef: the bizarre harmony of Child's robust modulation, a plummy accent not much heard in the Sixties,* and the fact that she resembled no one's idea of a television housewife. Without appearing to be clumsy, exactly, she did not perform with the poised, balletic grace of other broadcast cooks, who knew how punctuate their maneuvers with fetching smiles directed at the camera. She didn't perform at all. Her unselfconsciousness on television was, and remains, startling.

Maybe that was how she became a media star in the first place. She did not even own a television set when she was asked to appear on a books program...

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This is such a wonderful post. Those of you who haven't read it yet are in for a treat. Do yourself a favor and savor it like you would a glass of wine. . . or devour it like a nutella crepe bought on the streets of Paris. RJ, you capture the very flavor of the book.

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