Why Julia Child Always Had Goldfish Crackers As A Thanksgiving Appetizer

For years, Thanksgiving was a laid-back day for Julia Child and her husband Paul. According to her great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, when she and Paul were living in France they marked the day by merely enjoying oysters and Champagne (via The New York Times).

However, when the two returned to the United States in the 1960s and settled into their Cambridge, Massachusetts home, Thanksgiving became more of an event. Child would prepare a classic roasted turkey (or variations like a deconstructed one to address the varied cooking times of white and dark meat, per Cook's Illustrated) and traditional sides like mashed potatoes and oyster stuffing. By the mid-1970s she also happily fielded random calls throughout the day from frantic home cooks trying to navigate the preparation of their holiday birds as well.

Like those callers, many of us have our feathers a little ruffled on Thanksgiving Day (there's a reason, after all, that Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line exists). But in her signature style, Julia remained at ease, hosting a house full of guests and cooking Thanksgiving dinner all while coaching and calming those home cooks on the phone. It may come as no surprise, then, that the legendary lady famous for her fun approach to food would choose a simple starter to serve on the day of the year many Americans would describe as the most demanding in the kitchen. But why were Goldfish crackers her go-to?

Why Julia Child served Goldfish crackers

On Thanksgiving Day it's likely that Julia Child was far too busy performing one of her precise preparations of the turkey and traditional accompaniments to also prepare copious amounts of appetizers. However, it turns out that the small fish-shaped snacks were just simply one of her favorites.

"Well, I do love tuna fish sandwiches, and also chocolate ice cream sodas, peanut butter which I resist, and those cute little goldfish crackers people serve with cocktails. And then, of course, hot dogs and hamburgers with onion, pickles, and ketchup," Child told The New York Times in 1976.

Indeed, despite the fact that today the cheesy, grinning snacks are often regarded as a treat to tuck into a little one's lunchbox, they actually got their start being served as an accompaniment to cocktails (via Fast Company). Since Julia was no slouch when it came to serving spirits (after all, she claimed gin was one of the reasons for her longevity, according to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer) it seems natural that she'd also serve the de rigueur pairing of the time.

What Julia Child served with Goldfish Crackers

Julia once said, "I would happily die with a bottle of white Burgundy in my mouth" (per Oregon Live). However, it wasn't wine that she chose to sip with those schools of Goldfish on Thanksgiving day. Instead, Julia mixed up her favorite martini for her guests.

According to Fast Company, Julia would offer her guests a Reverse Martini (also sometimes referred to as an Upside-Down Martini). The cocktail has the same ingredients as the classic — gin and vermouth — but in reversed quantities. In Julia's version, the vermouth is the star of the show with just a bit of gin to complement it.

Cooking Channel says the cocktail consists of 5 parts vermouth (with Noilly Prat being Julia's preferred brand), 1 part gin, a lemon twist, and ice (if desired). The outlet also recommends stirring (as opposed to shaking).

Given the more recent rise in the popularity of low-alcohol cocktails, it could be said that Julia was perhaps stylishly ahead of her time with her cocktail choice. But, as always, she had the best reason for pouring these low-ABV aperitifs.

"The best thing about a reverse martini is that you can have two of them," her friend Anne Willan recalls Child proclaiming (via Carolyn O'Neil).

We'll toast to that. With a side of Goldfish crackers, of course.