Julia Says

Julia Says

Wise words from the great sage of American cooking

By Meredith Arthur

 Appetite for Life
Appetite for Life
 Backstage with Julia
Backstage with Julia

Julia Child is still beloved, not just for her ability to make French cooking accessible to Americans but also for her humor and strength. There’s a whole new generation of people who admire her, as both a chef and a public figure who embraced her imperfections and was always herself. In 2004, at a memorial at Napa’s Copia after her death, the tributes to Julia—from people of all ages and experience—were full of personal recollection; a few of the quotes below were taken from that event. Yeah, some of them are hearsay. But for a woman who lives so large in the public memory, potential apocrypha comes naturally. Consider this the beginnings of our virtual altar.

  1. “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” Unsourced.
  2. “Why languish as a giantess when it is so much fun to be a myth?” From Appetite for Life, a biography of Child.
  3. “If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.” From one of her TV shows, relayed by one of its producers.
  4. “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon app├ętit. Unsourced.
  5. “I am making no future plans.” From Appetite for Life.
  6. What would she have done if she hadn’t gone into cooking? “I would have married a Republican banker and become an alcoholic.” Told by Margrit Mondavi at Taste3 2006.
  7. “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” From the memoir Backstage with Julia: My Years with Julia Child.
  8. When asked if she knew her cholesterol level, she said, “Medium.” Unsourced.
  9. “Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you’re in a crowd, you’ll always have some clean air to breathe.” From Appetite for Life.
  10. When a sommelier asked her to name her favorite wine, she replied, “Gin.” Told by a friend at a public memorial after her death.

Portrait of Julia Child by Elsa Dorfman

CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.
Meredith Arthur is CHOW’s video producer.