Julia Carolyn Child (née McWilliams, August 15, 1912 August 13, 2004) was an American chef and author or co-author of a number of cookbooks, most famously Mastering the Art of French Cooking in two volumes. She became a celebrity in the 1960s and beyond, and is the subject of many an Affectionate Parody, given her enthusiastic demeanor and her distinctively plummy voice. Child herself was aware of and appreciated the many parodies of her work - although she never stooped to self-parody she maintained a distinctly light-hearted attitude and approach to her subject which (naturally) endeared her to audiences.
Her PBS program The French Chef pioneered the genre of the Cooking Show. It was produced from 1963 to 1973, and still can be seen in reruns to the present day. Episodes are also available on YouTube and have streamed on Twitch.
Just as a warning, American chefs and cooking professionals hold Julia Child to a level of respect and admiration that borders on religious. It is better for you to badmouth Fred Rogers on 4Chan than it is to badmouth Julia Child around a chef, especially if you are badmouthing her in his restaurant.
Works associated with Julia Child include:
- Julie & Julia: A combination fantasy and biopic aligning Child's experiences in Europe while she attended the Cordon Bleu school and co-authored her first cookbook, and author Julie Powell's attempt to cook all 524 recipes in the book in one year. Child is played by Meryl Streep.
- John "Melody Sheep" Boswell did a tribute video for Child in his own unmistakable style.
- One of Dan Aykroyd 's best-known SNL sketches is his impersonation of Julia. The skit is, itself, often parodied.
- Appears in the second episode of Season 5 of Epic Rap Battles of History against Gordon Ramsay.
- She appears in an episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, where she teaches Xavier about how you can do anything if you take it one step at a time.
Tropes associated with Julia Child's works include:
- Actually Pretty Funny: Child absolutely loved Dan Aykroyd's parody of her from Saturday Night Live, and even went so far as to record on video so she could show it to guests at parties.
- Adaptation Distillation/Adaptation Expansion: The French Chef was, essentially, an adaptation of her famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The distillation comes in that only those recipes within the book that were accessible to the intended viewer (the middle-class home cook without staff) were chosen; the expansion comes in that the television format and the 30-minute runtime allowed her to go into much more detail than a written recipe would.
- Catchphrase: "This is Julia Child. Bon appétit!"
- Cooking Show: The French Chef was one of the earliest examples of the genre, and quickly became a popular sensation since Child excelled at showing how high-quality food could be made easily at home.
- Crossover: Child once showed up on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to show the neighbors her recipe for Spaghetti.
- Food Porn: Given that her shows are, well, cooking shows, the food and showing them are the entire point.
- French Cuisine Is Haughty: Zig-Zagged. Child was trained as a chef in France and reinforced the connection between French cuisine and fine dining, but her books and TV shows were meant to demystify the process and show that ordinary Americans could make their own French-quality food at home. Most of her recipes are based more on French home cooking than the elaborate fare you'd get at a high-end restaurant, but on the other hand she also featured recipes for fancy meals such as pressed duck and lobster thermidor. She was also very fond of the In-N-Out burger chain.
- Full-Name Basis: Always referred to herself onscreen as "Julia Child", never "Julia" nor "Mrs. Child". Averted after the fact - to this day, celebrity chefs and professional cooks will still refer to her simply as "Julia" in hushed, reverent tones.
- Hidden Depths: Most people remember Child as a cook—but she also worked for the OSS overseas during World War II, and was so praised her for skills that she became a top-secret researcher who worked directly for the organization's leader. Later, she invented the world's first shark repellent (the fish kept setting off underwater explosives) while stationed in East Asia; the repellent was so successful that it's still used today.note Child received several military honors and awards for her work.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Julia stood 6'2", and thus towered over most men. (This was a family trait; her sister Dorothy was even taller.) Though surviving photographs indicate her husband Paul was about average height for a man, she still stood almost a head taller than he. This is relevant to her works in that Paul built Julia a custom kitchen with countertops several inches higher than the standard so that she would not be constantly hunched over, and the sets on her shows were built the same.
- Lady Drunk: She was known for her love of liquor and never shied away from making jokes about it. In one famous quote, she remarked "I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food"; in another, when asked what her favorite wine was, she happily responded "gin!" Averted, however, in that she never imbibed on-camera, even though many people remember her consuming the wine she would pour with her meal at the end of each episode of The French Chef.
- Supreme Chef: Child brought French cooking to Americans, but she was highly skilled. Media portrayals of her emphasize this fact.
- Throw It In!: Invoked deliberately. The show was filmed directly to videotape without interruptions, so if Julia made a mistake, they often just left it in. Julia explained that this helped humanize the process of cooking, showing that even an experienced professional can make a kitchen mistake like you do.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Count the recipes that include butter and cream. And served with white wine.
- Trope Codifier: She codified the tropes for Cooking Show and celebrity chef.