I was so excited to hear about The French Chef in America, Alex Prud'homme's follow-up to My Life in France, the memoir of Julia Child that he co-wrote with her. Although Julia herself was not available to co-write this book, it's brought to life through her letters, her writings, her books, and interviews with her friends.
Where My Life in France focused on the Childs' love of France and Julia's path as a culinary student to published co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The French Chef in America focuses more on her later life, on her PBS shows and subsequent cookbooks, on her contributions to the culinary culture in America, and on her relationships with other chefs she met in the states.
Did you know that Julia was the first food editor of the Parade magazine that you can still get with your Sunday newspaper? Did you know that she helped launch the celebrity of chefs such as Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck? Did you know that Dan Akroyd's Saturday Night Life Bass-O-Matic sketch is based on a food processor that Julia gifted Akroyd's aunt? (And you thought I was going to talk about that famous Julia sketch he did! Did you know that Julia loved that one and kept a videotape of it by the television in her kitchen, so that she and Paul could share it with guests who had never seen it?)
From beginning to end, Julia Child was a wonder, a student, a teacher, and a force of nature. She never stopped learning, never stopped encouraging chefs to cook better, and never stopped advocating for all of us to enjoy the food in our lives.
The audiobook is read by Alex Prud'homme himself, which makes his personal stories about Julia so much more compelling. While the book does wander a bit through time and place, his close relationship with the Childs (Paul Child's twin brother was Prud'homme's grandfather, so he got to spend time with them as family), along with his extensive research and interviews, create as full a picture of Julia Child and the culinary world she helped create as I could imagine. This book took me to France and then back again, to the cookbook that changed the way America thought about the food it eats back to the plate that sat before me at dinner tonight. While some readers might prefer a more straight-forward look at the life and work of Julia Child, I found that The French Chef in America opened my eyes to a whole new world of food. And I wouldn't go back for all the butter in France.
Audiobook for The French Chef in America provided by the publisher through BloggingforBooks.com.