All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme

My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme is the delightful love story and memoir of the inimitable Julia Child, French chef, author, and television personality. The movie Julie and Julia was partially based on the book, and scenes from the movie involving Julia’s rise to cooking prominence, her partnership with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, and the publishing of her first cookbook are all drawn from My Life in France.

The book is engaging and easy to read. Admirers of Child's will find its intimacies about her life fascinating, particularly with regard to her desire to become a chef in the first place. When she is admitted to the prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school she declares, “How magnificent to find my life’s calling, at long last!” The reader can’t help but want to celebrate with her, knowing the legacy she left.

But Child reveals much about herself that isn’t related to cooking. She shares how she lacked confidence in the academic and artistic circles her husband cultivated. “I was thirty-seven years old,” she says, “and still discovering who I was.” And, she elaborates on her famous aplomb when cooking mistakes happened. “I made sure not to apologize for (a failed dish). This was a rule of mine. I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make.” Instead, you “grit (your) teeth and bear it with a smile—and learn from (your) mistakes.”

Stories about meals abound, including the ultimate restaurant meals and their chefs’ techniques. When Child and her husband are assigned to a post in Germany—Julia’s husband was a government employee—her despair at the lack of “good” food and ingredients was palpable.

My Life in France is a charming book, full of excellent advice for the budding chef, and a good place to start before picking up Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child’s defining creation. Published in 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, My Life in France, as well as an entire bookshelf of Julia Child cookbooks, is readily available in print and electronic versions.

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