The recent popularity of the movie Julie and Julia may lead to you read the book of the same name by Julie Powell, and even check out the cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but what you may enjoy even more is the story of Julia Child herself, her memoir called simply My Life in France. This is one of the most buoyant, upbeat and positive narratives I have read in a long time. It is not just about her life but also how her massive cookbook came to be written, and scattered throughout are the loveliest black and white photos of Paris taken by her husband. As the film and book narrate, she did find herself bored in Paris in the ‘50's when her husband was transferred there. And she did take cooking lessons and decide to write a cookbook that would, for American housewives, open up the marvelous world of French cookery with which Julia herself had become so taken. Yet what you won't find in the movie is Julia's pragmatic attitude towards life, her marvelous ability to laugh at herself and how she delightedly shares how she fell in love with France: the food, the wine, the joie de vivre. Here was a woman who, unlike some travelers, was not put out by the cultural differences she found, but was rather enchanted by them. Cats sitting in chairs in bistros, poodles lolling under the café tables, wine at lunch-Julia approaches France with a wonderful sense of discovery. She calls her first French meal an "ephiphany" and says, " I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me." And thus, for Julia Child, the glass was always more than half full-it was, in fact, brimming over. Delve into this marvelous book, and you will partake at a feast to remember!
Recommended by Betsy Schroeder