Exploding onto television screens in 1963 with her WGBH (Boston) program “The French Chef,” Julia Child quickly became a household name. Known for her extensive knowledge of French cuisine as well as her down-to-earth approach to kitchen navigation, Julia endeared herself to home cooks immediately; mistakes were okay, as were everyday culinary triumphs such as boeuf bourguignon and salade niçoise. Julia’s cry of solidarity was, “If I can do it, you can do it… and here’s how to do it!”
Julia adored the rich world of food and wine; she decried fad diets and many other food trends, always attending first to her palate. In 1989, after a severe earthquake in California, a reporter asked her what she would eat if she knew it was to be her last meal. True to form, she replied, “Cracked crab, oysters, something with duck, asparagus… whether it’s in season or not… something chocolate for dessert, and a bottle of wine with every course.”
For nearly 10 years Gastronomica has been known in the culinary world as a cutting-edge magazine that offers beautiful essays and in-depth articles about topics as varied as Vegemite and vineyards. This re-issue of a classic features the same high level of writing but with an exciting difference: This issue of Gastronomica is devoted solely to remembering Julia Child and honoring her legacy. Julia, who died in 2004 at the age of 91, changed the way America thinks about food, cooking, and the culinary world as a whole.
An extraordinary roster of contributors has provided their thoughts, memories, and perceptions about the life and legacy of Julia Child, and many speak to how she affected their lives. Many of them are instantly recognizable to any food maven: Jacques Pépin. Anne Willan. Jasper White. Sara Moulton. Just as important are the less familiar contributors who have not written publicly about Julia before, such as Julia’s longtime personal assistant, Stephanie Hersh.
This special issue of Gastronomica is many things. It is a glimpse into Julia’s world–her childhood, her college years, her romance with her husband, Paul–for those who don’t know as much about her as they might like. For those who respected her both as chef and colleague, it is a tribute. And it is a farewell and final bon appétit for those who knew her best.