Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!
Julia Child would have turned 100 years old today, and my social media feeds were abuzz all day with delicious recipes (like this one. and this one. and this one…), funny YouTube videos (like this one), and clips from Julie & Julia (like this one).
But there was also quite a bit of discussion about whether or not Julia advanced feminism or set us back. This boggles my mind. The thought process, it seemed was that since Julia was a woman cooking on TV, and making cooking and being in the kitchen her primary business, she turned the clocks back a few years.
I understand the thought process – really, I do. But I don’t agree with it – not one little bit. Here’s why.
1. Julia wasn’t exactly your average stereotype of a meek Holly Homemaker. At 6 feet tall, Child was a formidable life force. She was vivacious, with an appetite for life – it just so happened that her greatest passion was great food.
2. Julia didn’t play into gender stereotypes. Sure she loved to cook, but she also never had children; finding fufillment in her career, friends, and marriage to her completely adorable husband (seriously, if you haven’t yet, read My Life in France – THEY ARE THE CUTEST EVER)
3. Julia built an empire. Talk about a savvy businesswoman! Child wrote a number of books and was the star of a syndicated TV empire from the 1970’s until her passing.
4. Julia was FEARLESS. She walked into a culinary world in a foreign country that was entirely male-dominated and made it her own. She de-boned ducks, cooked live lobsters, and sliced up fish with the best of them – heck, some days I’m still grossed out by stuffing a roast chicken! Julia revolutionized the world of food in American culture. Speaking of which…
5. Julia not only made it OK to spend time in the kitchen again, she made it an art. Just watching one of Julia’s TV shows makes you marvel at her culinary prowess and ease in the kitchen. She was a strong, independent woman in the kitchen and in life, and her enjoying cooking had no bearing on her capabilities outside the kitchen. This is also the issue I take with the idea that if you’re a strong independent woman, you can’t be a good chef also. I love to cook and love to be in the kitchen, but part of why I love being there is because society places less of a pressure on me to fit into that conventional role of homemaker than it did on my grandmother or mother. Julia helped create that divide – that food and cooking should be enjoyable, a treat, not a chore.
So happy 100th, Julia! You were an incredible woman and one of my biggest role models. You taught me to love food, enjoy preparing it, and above all to enjoy life. I hope you were pleased with my celebration of your life – cooking your roast chicken recipe, watching an episode of your old cooking shows, and drinking a tres large glass of wine with my meal.