'Dearie': a soup-to-nuts biography of 'The French Chef' Julia Child
Bob Spitz's "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" is a deeply researched biography of the California-raised writer who brought French cooking to America.
The Associated Press
'Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child'
by Bob Spitz
Knopf, 576 pp., $29.95
Before Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse, before Gordon Ramsay and Rachael Ray, before Lidia Bastianich and Anthony Bourdain, there was Julia Child.
Child made her TV cooking debut in 1962, in black and white, and by the time she'd finished making an omelet, audiences were hooked. TV cooking has never been the same.
Now, out in time for what would have been the late chef's 100th birthday on Aug. 15, Bob Spitz has written a soup-to-nuts biography of her life. Spitz takes readers from her childhood in Pasadena, Calif., to her days at Smith College and from her work for America's first intelligence agency during World War II to her introduction to serious cooking in France. While the book begins with her first television appearance, it backtracks to her youth, and readers don't even get to her enrollment in cooking classes at Paris' Le Cordon Bleu until more than a third of the way into the book. Early chapters can be a bit slow, since the topic readers inevitably want to read about is her cooking.
Still, Child's life and plucky attitude are quality ingredients. Add Spitz's storytelling skills and the result is a foolproof recipe for entertainment. Readers get tasty morsels on every page. Child loved Goldfish crackers and served them as hors d'oeuvres. She was paid $50 per episode for her first show, "The French Chef." At one point her mornings included 60 strokes on a rowing machine so that when she beat egg whites on television she wouldn't get out of breath. Readers will swear that to write the book Spitz must have spent years as Child's sous chef, observing and writing down details. Spitz spent four years researching and writing the 500-plus-page tome, a deliciously satisfying read. As Child would say, "Bon appétit!"