Let’s have all those picky eaters out there chew on that! This lovely quote is opposite the title page of the new picture book biography, Bon Appétit! the delicious life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland (Schwartz & Wade Books, a division of Random House, 2012).
Before I read this book, most of what I knew about Julia Child I had learned from watching the 2009 movie Julie & Julia. I knew, at the very least, that Child was a truly original character who had led a very interesting life. Bon Appétit expands on the basic facts with funny anecdotes, peppered with French banter and a few mini cooking lessons, all wrapped up in a lively comic-book style that keeps one’s eye in motion.
Though it’s geared toward 7 to 10 year olds, there is plenty in this book to entertain an adult audience as well. It’s the kind of book that is filled to the brim with things you might not know. What exactly is Welsh Rabbit? What did Julia Child -then McWilliams- have to do with sharks off the coast of Sri Lanka? How do you really pronounce bouillabaisse? I even love the endpages, where we get an illustrated sampling of probable objects from Julia’s everyday life, labeled in English in the front, French in the back. In terms of information per page, this book is dense.
Like Julia Child herself, Hartland’s book has a sense of vivacity and a sense of humor. It is thoroughly enjoyable to read. Halfway through the book, BeanTwo asked me why I was using ”that funny voice” when Julia was talking. (I’m sure I do a horrible impersonation.) I explained that Child had a cooking show, in fact the first ever cooking show, and that I was trying to talk like her. Both my Beans have seen cooking shows on PBS and on the Food Network, and they were interested when the biography got to that part of her life. Bon Appétit includes some of the funnier highlights from those shows.
At the end, Hartland gives us her own recipe for French Crêpes, with all the detail Julia herself would include. BeanOne and BeanTwo loved both making them and eating them. I prefer mine rolled up with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of sugar. The kids liked them folded, with bananas and nutella. When I said I was taking a picture for my blog, BeanTwo insisted it had to look like something, so there’s a crêpe butterfly. But really, they didn’t sit on the plate long enough to be much appreciated that way.
As much as I like that opening quote about people who love to eat, I think the my favorite quote of Julia Child comes at the end. “Don’t apologize for your cooking mistakes,” she says. “It is what it is.”
I think smell a philosophy for Life in there.