Julia Child Dies at 91
August 13, 2004 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Julia Child Dies at 91
Alfred A. Knopf said in a statement she died in her sleep on Thursday at her Santa Barbara, California, home.
I, for one, am really going to miss her.
posted by lilboo (38 comments total)
Just saw this and agree that I too will really miss her.

Shame to pass away on Friday the 13th.
posted by fenriq at 8:19 AM on August 13, 2004

What a great woman, and a singular life. We'll miss you, Julia.
posted by stonerose at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2004

First you pluck the chicken....


I was a huge fan. I grew up watching her show after school as a kid, and it ignited my enthusiasm for cooking. RIP, Julia.
posted by psmealey at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2004

In case there's anyone who hasn't seen it - the Julie/Julia Project - a fun, offbeat, throughly (post)modern tribute.

And here are a few fun sound samples from Julia.
posted by stonerose at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2004

I saw her kitchen at the Smithsonian. What surprised me is how it wasn't really that special. Sure, she had lots of pots, and the countertops and work table were higher than usual, but she had a regular old drip coffee maker, and the kitchen wasn't that big, either.

I guess it was all about, you know, skill and knowledge and stuff.

I love seeing her and Jacques Pepin working together, the banter and disagreements about the exact correct way to make a hamburger. I love how she said she didn't worry about undercooked ground beef or too much butter. I've never really been a fan of her style of French cooking, but I will miss her.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:25 AM on August 13, 2004

You can never worry about too much butter.
posted by kenko at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2004

aw...RIP : <

She really made good cooking doable, and was always fun to watch.
posted by amberglow at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2004

She was still alive???
posted by Stan Chin at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2004

I'll see if I can dig up a glass or two of Chateau Gravée Mastere to raise. Here's mud in yer eye, kiddo!
posted by mwhybark at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2004

...... damn.
posted by moonbird at 8:32 AM on August 13, 2004

If you get a chance, go see her kitchen at the Smithsonian. It's not awesome, but it's pretty neat, and while her kitchen wasn't really all that special, I *covet* her stove.
posted by bshort at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2004

Julia gave my mother her start by mentoring her a bit and letting my mom cook once or twice on her show. This was back in the early 80s.

She shall be missed.
posted by o2b at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2004

High Five, Julia!
posted by azul at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2004

She and I shared the same birthdate and was saddened to see she passed away so close to another celebration. I saw her once in Cambridge and thought she would live to 100. RIP Julia.
posted by brent at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2004

I can't remember the exact quote but she said something like:

"It is impossible to imagine Western Civilization without the onion."

love ya, babe!
posted by n9 at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2004

MrMoonPie: My mother has always claimed that the best cooks don't have fancy new equipment, they make do with everyday stuff; and conversely, someone with expensive cookware, appliances, etc., usually isn't a good cook. It's one of those unprovable sweeping generalizations of hers, but there's something to it, I think.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2004

Quite a life.

I really liked her, (even if Pepin was always right, and she was usually wrong.)

posted by Keith Talent at 8:38 AM on August 13, 2004

What an inspiration!

... and I wonder how many of the rising generation know of her life as a Allies spy during WWII?

A renaissance woman.

Rest in peace, Julia.
posted by silusGROK at 8:38 AM on August 13, 2004

"Save the Liver!"

She was a hoot to watch and will be missed
posted by Windopaene at 8:46 AM on August 13, 2004

I started keeping a small acetylin torch in my kitchen after seeing Julia use it to carmelize a the outer coating of a dessert.
posted by RavinDave at 8:49 AM on August 13, 2004

Bon appetit, Julia. Bon appetit.
posted by dchase at 8:52 AM on August 13, 2004

Au revoir, Julia.
posted by briank at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2004

Think of what food might be like in America today without her influence. Thanks, Julia!

Incidentally I just learned that she didn't find her calling until she was in her thirties, which I find encouraging. She is quoted as saying "I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate."
posted by Songdog at 9:12 AM on August 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

Although I am not a foodie, my girlfriend is.

She told me stories about watching Julia Child growing up as a little kid. She cherishes every cookbook the Julia Child wrote and she gained a large respect for French cooking (especially desserts) from Julia's shows and books. Even today, after being a pastry chef for several years and having more cookbooks than god, my girlfriend's favorite book is her first Julia Child book that has been well loved, well used and has helped fill many people (including me) with a happy stomach.
posted by Stynxno at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2004

Awww, sad :(

She was really a national treasure. And another pile-on for the rec to see her kitchen at the Smithsonian. The most memorable part for me was her catalog of her and Jacques' wine cellar contents. Wowzers!
posted by mkultra at 9:48 AM on August 13, 2004

This is sad. While I don't think she was a particularly great cook, she opened the doors for many people and enabled them to learn to cook well. I've watched some of her old shows, and they're fairly painful to sit through, especially when you compare it to the slick production values of the shows you see on cable these days.

I'll always remember when she made a traditional french holiday dessert, called a buche de noel, which is a rolled cake designed to look like a log. Hers ended up looking more like a bloated turd on a plate.

Her more recent series, where she shared her kitchen with Jacques Pepin, is a really great resource. I've learned a lot of techniques from that one. And she introduced many of the popular chefs on tv now to the television camera, including Lidia Bastianich, from whom I've learned a lot of italian cooking techniques. The fact that she acquiesced and included Martha Stewart in her series on great chefs was a bit of an affront, but, oh well.

Julia was a great lady, with a lot of personality who led a good, long, full life. She'll be missed.
posted by crunchland at 11:14 AM on August 13, 2004

Here's a 50sec (real player) snippit of Julia speaking to the camera inside her Smithsonian kitchen.

Now, first, remove the giblets - and you really should save the giblets. They make a fine stock for soup. Or you can save the liver and fry it up with some onions for a little snack; or if you have a number of livers, you can make a lovely liver pate, or a delicious liverwurst which you can spread on a cracker - a Ritz cracker, a Saltine ... or rye bread, or pumpernickel bread ... or if you're celebrating the Jewish holidays, you can make a chopped liver and shape it into the bust of a friend ... if someone's getting married or bar-mitzvahed. Or, if you have a little cat or a dog, they love liver. Save the liver! Don't throw it away! I hope I've made my point. Don't throw the liver away. Now, where was I? [looks around the kitchen] Oh, yes. Anyway, it's time to bone the chicken...

/more Aykroyd
posted by Cedric at 11:19 AM on August 13, 2004

Julia Child was a Santa Barbara fixture ... you'd often run into her at some greasy spoon restaurant (NOT one for "healthy" cooking, she! Yay for her living to the age of 91!) or going to see a matinee in the early afternoon.

What always surprised me when seeing her was that she was a BIG woman. Not in the sense of girth, but in height and broad shoulders. I wouldn't want to have tangled with her in her prime, that's for sure.

I had the pleasure of having a brief conversation with her in line to see "Fellowship of the Ring" (after my friend had cut her off in line!!!) and it's a memory I'll always treasure. Fun-loving, humorous, and a little naughty, that was Julia Child.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2004

My mother has always claimed that the best cooks don't have fancy new equipment, they make do with everyday stuff; and conversely, someone with expensive cookware, appliances, etc., usually isn't a good cook.

You know, I've been thinking about this for the last few hours, and I've decided it's utter bullshit. If you've got cheap, grocery store frying pans and sauce pans, your food probably won't turn out as well in something sturdier. A good quality, heavy pan will beat out a cheap, crappy thin pan any day. A good chef's knife will cut things better than, say, a butter knife.

That's not to say that you need to spend tons of money on every pan in the store ... A $20 cast iron frying pan is just as good, if not better, than a much more expensive all-clad or calphalon pan, for example.
posted by crunchland at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2004


This foodies little heart is now broken.

Thanks for everything Julia. You will be missed, remembered, and loved.
posted by jopreacher at 1:41 PM on August 13, 2004

Good tools help, true. But lots of flashy equipment doesn't make you a better cook.

I'll miss Julia, and I'm glad she led a long, full life. (It says something about the kind of person she was that everyone refers to her as "Julia.")

She was one of my mother's idols -- among her twenty-plus shelves of cookbooks, there's a shelf that she affectionately refers to as her "nerve center." It contains both volumes of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (her third copy; she's worn out two others), Julia's "The Way To Cook", and some other key cookbooks. I think the time my mother had tea with Julia (at La Varenne -- Mom was there for a cooking class, Julia stopped by for a visit) was one of the highlights of her cooking career.

And yes, going to see her kitchen in the Smithsonian was great.

As briank said, au revoir, Julia.

posted by Vidiot at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2004

crunchland, it's probably more accurate to say that high-quality cookware is a multiplier for technique rather than an addition to technique. They're tools like any other, and a tool of sufficient quality focuses on magnifying your efforts. So, if you know how to saute properly, a responsive well built pan will give you the nice, seared crust and tasty fond that we all hope for, but if you don't know what you're doing and, say, leave the heat on too high, that same pan will just as easily turn your saute into a greasy inferno.

I definitely think that there's an attitude amongst many home cooks that you can substitute good cookware for poor skills, and I also believe that this attitude is partially reinforced by modern cooking shows that continuously push products at the viewer. I don't recall Julia Child's show ever doing this. As far as I recall, she was always focusing on ingredients and technique, and while she might encourage you to make your own stock instead of buying bouillon, she never told you that in order to replicate her recipes perfectly, you had to cook with Juliaware pots and pans.
posted by bl1nk at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2004


(please miss me when im dead)
posted by Satapher at 3:45 PM on August 13, 2004

A carving knife and a dead chicken in Julia's hands... Itzhak Perlman bowing his Stradivarius... it just don't get any better than this.

pmurray: My mother has always claimed that the best cooks don't have fancy new equipment, they make do with everyday stuff; and conversely, someone with expensive cookware, appliances, etc., usually isn't a good cook.

Funny. My dad was mechanic foreman with the operating engineer's union, and sometimes had to fire other mechanics. He always started with the guy with the biggest toolbox.
posted by groundhog at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2004

My favorite TV show was the one where she cooked lobster.
The camera was in close-up on her and the lobsters on the counter. She talked about 1-lb lobster and then larger sizes (up to 5 lbs, maybe) AND then the camera pulled back to show the 23 monster on the counter. Totally awesome. Ever since then, I have wanted to have a 23-lb lobster for dinner (of course I will invite you over to share).
A wonderful example of taking life as it comes and running with it.
posted by davebarnes at 8:13 PM on August 13, 2004

I don't even have the words.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:34 PM on August 13, 2004

I will have some gin for the woman who loved food.

And though I don't eat chickens, I shall relish a grape in her memory.

posted by tr33hggr at 8:59 PM on August 13, 2004

This year, I will go as Julia Child for Halloween. She's my hero... RIP Julia
posted by daver at 6:21 AM on August 14, 2004

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