America’s First Lady of Food

Julia Child’s impact on how we cook, then and now
Harvey Steiman
Issue: September 30, 2009

Julia Child’s kitchen ranks among the most-visited exhibits in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., right up there with Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, Jefferson’s desk and a collection of first ladies’ inaugural dresses.

Clearly, seeing the actual kitchen has resonance for anyone who cares about food and wine in America. Chefs acknowledge that had it not been for Julia, they could not do what they do. With her gangly, 6-foot-2-inch frame, fluty voice and sometimes awkward posture in the kitchen, she endeared herself to generations of Americans. They watched her on television and fell in love with cooking and eating well, leading millions to embrace better and more adventurous food and wine.

America got a chance to relive it all this summer when Meryl Streep portrayed her in the film Julie & Julia, based on the memoir Julia wrote with her nephew Alex Prud’homme and the 2005 book, Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell.

For the full article, check out the new issue of Wine Spectator, on newsstands August 24, 2009.

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