Top 10 Ways Julia Child Changed the Way We Cook
Julia Child appeared to stumble into cooking, writing, and television, but if you believe that, you weren’t paying attention. Child was raised in Pasadena, California, in comfortable surroundings. She attended Smith College, and upon graduating took a job with the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). She was sent to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where she eventually met the man who was to become her husband, Paul Cushing Child. The couple moved to Paris in 1948, marking the beginning of Child’s love affair with food.
By the time Child found her way into our kitchens, Americans, especially American housewives, had been told they didn’t have enough time for cooking, that canned and frozen products, the champions of the new industrial agriculture complex, were the busy housewife’s saviors.
When the towering six-foot-two-inch Child whisked her first omelette on public television, a nation responded. She wasn’t what was expected; she was so much better than that. Through cookbooks and television, Child invited herself into our homes and changed our approach toward food — from raw ingredients to the dinner plate.
Julia Child occupies a permanent place in the pantheon of culinary celebrities — she was the clear favorite when we asked members of The Daily Meal Council to vote for ten key food figures in the history of food for our first annual Daily Meal Hall of Fame — leaving an indelible mark on cookery in America. These are the top 10 ways Julia Child changed the way we cook, from the obvious roast chicken to the more fundamental ideology.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1963, was revolutionary because it was one of the first cookbooks to feature step-by-step recipe instructions. Now a seminal cookbook, the manuscript, written by Child along with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, was initially rejected by publishers because it was deemed too instructional. Once the cookbook was published, the reception was lukewarm at first, but sales took off after Child appeared on a book review show on Boston’s National Educational Television to demonstrate how to make an omelette. In 1971, volume II was published.
Child was a pioneer in her own right when she signed up for classes at the famous French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu, being that she was both a woman and an American. Child wanted women in the professional kitchens to be commonplace, not an aberration. She went toe-to-toe with institutions like the Culinary Institute of America, strongly urging them to admit more women into their professional programs.