Today is Julia Child's birthday — it would have been her 99th — and it's hard not to appreciate this wonderful woman for all she did for the United States' culinary scene, for women looking to break the invisible wall between the home kitchen and the professional one, for food television, and for the late bloomers in all of us (Julia did not fully realize her passion and abilities as a chef until her late 30s). As this Vanity Fair article points out, it was television where Julia Child shined: While her cookbooks show some of her wit and personality, it was television that provided the proper forum for her natural talents. She was whip-smart, warm, funny, personable, and wholly unafraid to be vulnerable.
To celebrate Julia's birthday, we compiled five of our favorite Julia moments and interviews. Bon appetit!
5. Julia and the OSS. In this fascinating snippet, Julia reveals how she went from a writer aspiring to work at The New Yorker to joining the Office of Strategic Services during the war. At the OSS, she was a typist and, it was revealed, a spy.
4. Julia Child, David Letterman and the Hamburger That Wasn't. Julia always was known for her fast improvisation and wit, both of which were grounded in her solid knowledge of cookery. Here, Julia Child pops up on David Letterman's late night talk show intending to make hamburgers. Confronted with a malfunctioning burner, though, she quickly opts to make “beef tartare au gratin” instead.
3. Julia loves McDonald's. In this clip, Julia reveals she's not above any food, like McDonald's French fries. Well, before “the nutritionists got at them,” anyway.
2. Julia teaches us how to make a proper omelette. In this episode of The French Chef, Julia teaches you how to make the deceptively simple omelette. This is an excellent reminder of how instructive cooking shows, stripped of the unnecessary production and flattering soft lights, actually can be.
1. Julia's three-hour interview with the Archive for American Television. In 2009, Michael Rosen had the enviable opportunity to interview Julia Child for three hours for a series produced by the Archive of American Television. This excerpt highlights some of the more interesting nuggets of the interview, including a tidbit about how The French Chef got its title (it “fit in one line in the TV Guide“). Julia also shows off some of her favorite kitchen tools.