Julia Child Was a Culinary Warrior

Here are some fun facts and gorgeous pictures of the first lady of food, in celebration of her 101st birthday.

  • Photo: The Denver Post
  • “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all," Julia proclaimed. Here's the chef with her husband Paul in California, 1951. (Photo: Harvard University Library)
  • Julia Child on the set of The French Chef (1963).
  • Julia shows off tomatoes in the kitchen at her home in Cambridge, MA, in 1992. (Photo: Associated Press)
  • The author signing copies of her book,  Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
  • Julia's kitchen wall at her studio. (Photo: Photo: Two Men and a Little Farm)

Julia Child increased America’s awareness of food, cooking, and eating long before Michael Polan and Ferran Adrià even knew how to properly roast a chicken. Child’s show The French Chef, which aired from 1963 to 1973, heralded a new age of celebrity-chef. It was one of the first cooking shows on American television, along with Graham Kerr’s Galloping Gourmet. People were drawn to Child’s wit, enthusiasm, and confidence and knowledge in the kitchen. ”The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude,” Julia once said.

Here are some funny, fun, and useful facts about Julia, in celebration of her 101st birthday.

  • She drove a Volkswagen with a spatula wired to the antenna so she could find her car in the parking lot.
  • She called James Beard ”Jimmy”.
  • Julia kept a directory of In-N-Out locations in her purse. She was one of the first celebrity champions of the chain.
  • She loved Chinese food and going to Chinatown. 
  • In a television interview in 2002, Larry King asked Julia Child which foods she hated. She responded: “Cilantro and arugula I don’t like at all. They’re both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me.”
  • About cilantro, Julia said, “I would pick it out [of a dish] if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”
  • She had a lot of interests outside of food. She loved films and she loved to talk about films.
  • Her given name is Julia Carolyn McWilliams
  • Child was six feet, two inches tall
  • Julia moved to Paris with her husband, Paul, after he was assigned there as an exhibits officer with the US Information Agency. It was there that Julia was introduced to fine cuisine.

Julia Child’s Classic Roast Chicken

Ingredients

3 pounds frying chicken (whole or cut up)

¾ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons softened butter

1 small sliced carrot

1 small sliced onion

1 tablespoon good cooking oil

½ tablespoon minced shallots or ½ tablespoon green onion

1 cup brown chicken stock, canned chicken broth or 1 cup beef bouillon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon butter.

Truss the chicken and dry it thoroughly.

Rub the skin with 1 tablespoon butter. In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Set aside for basting.

Place the chicken, breast up, in a shallow roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it and set it on the rack in the middle of a preheated oven.

Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, and the right side for the remaining 5 minutes.

Baste after each turn with the butter and oil mixture. Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

Leave the chicken on its side and baste every 8 to 10 minutes using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted.

Halfway through estimated roasting time (about 40 minutes), salt the chicken with ¼ teaspoon of salt and turn it on its other side. Continue basting.

Salt again 15 minutes before done and continue basting.

Chicken should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved so the juices are absorbed by the meat.

Chicken is done when it registers between 175 and 190 degrees, depending on preferred doneness.

While the chicken is sitting, remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Stir in the minced shallot and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the stock and boil rapidly over high heat, letting it reduce to about ½ cup. Season with salt and pepper and swirl in the last 1-2 tablespoons butter.

Pour a spoonful over chicken and serve the remainder as gravy.

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