Anticipation in the nonfiction food book world depends on your taste in dining companions, past and present: Julia Child, Yottam Ottolenghi, Diana Kennedy, perhaps. And this summer, it will also depend on how you feel about cats.
Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in The Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson, a book chronicling Child's love of cooking and cats, will be released in August.
Barey and Burson, according to the publisher's website, are producers-directors who own a media company that produces “award-winning programs on a range of subjects.” Somewhere therein, we presume, lies a fascination with Julia Child. And cats.
“A reporter once asked Julia Child what she might whip up for her creator when she got to heaven,” begins the book's prologue. “Julia wasn't a religious person – she believed heaven was right here on earth, in her own cozy kitchen, hovering over a skillet sizzling with shallots and butter, then sitting down to share a meal with people she loved, a cat wrapped around her ankles, meowing for treats.”
As a press release explains of the book's content, “From Julia's and Paul's letters and original interviews with those who knew her best, Patricia Barey and Therese Burson have gathered fresh stories and images that offer a delightfully intimate view of a beloved icon.” And cats.
Minette, the cat in many of Child's stories from their Paris apartment days, is certainly the most famous of the Child felines. “Minette captured Julia's heart, igniting a lifelong passion for cats equaled only by her love of food and her husband, Paul,” continues the press release. We are told there are “cherished feline companions who shared Julia's life–in Paris, Provence, and finally California.” More cats.
If the prologue is any indication, the book is heavy on sentimentality and descriptions like “feline joie de vivre.” Whether that's a good thing depends on your taste in non-fiction reporting (and pets as an icon's icon), and whether you're a cat, dog or animal-neutral sort of Julia Child fan.
Until the book's release in August, when we can all get a better glimpse at the book's content, we leave you with the last paragraph of the prologue, which chronicles the night Julia passed away. Her assistant made a batch of French onion soup per Child's request (yes, the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking).
A beloved dinner companion that night was a wild little black-and-white kitten named Minou, who shared Julia's home in a retirement community near Santa Barbara. Full of feline joie de vivre, Minou was the soul mate who brightened Julia's days. When she was ready for bed, the kitten curled up in his customary spot on the right side of the pillow. Minou kept watch through the night as Julia's charmed life ebbed away, where she said it all truly began, in the company of cats.
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