The Late Movies: Julia Child

Matt Soniak

My girlfriend and I recently watched Julie and Julia (my pick, not hers) and, honestly, I could have done without the Julie half of the equation. I'm a cook and a blogger, so I didn't really need an hour of Amy Adams acting out a variation of my life and all the chopping, typing and talking to the cat that it contains. What I could have used was more Julia, and would have much rather had a movie that was solely a Julia Child biopic. Alas, Hollywood has failed me again, so I've been left to fill my Julia void via YouTube. Here's what I've found.

The Chicken Sisters
Here's Julia doing what she does best: sounding just a little drunk. Julia's mannerisms and her way of speaking are pretty easy to make fun of (which you shouldn't do if you know what's good for you, watch her swing that knife), so I appreciated Meryl Streep's performance. She nailed Julia's quirks without making the portrayal a caricature.

On the Subjects of French Fries and Fat
Who woulda thunk it? Julia really enjoyed McDonald's French Fries (James Beard was a fan, too), but stopped eating them once the fast food chain stopped frying them in beef tallow and switched to vegetable oil. Fun fact: prior to the oil switch, the fries had more saturated beef fat per ounce than the hamburgers.

Cooking Up Some Science
In 1987, PBS ran a program called The Ring of Truth: Atoms. Julia acted as something of a research assistant on the program, turning a meal into an experiment in applied biochemistry. The guy about to dine at the end is the host of the program, MIT physicist Philip Morrison.

In this video, which played in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Life in The Universe gallery from 1976 until its closing, Julia cooks up the stuff of life: a big ol' pot of primordial soup (again, with the knife waving).

Making Burgers with Dave
Not only does Julia make a great straight man, she also does all her own stunts. In this late '80s appearance on Letterman, she deals with broken equipment and Dave's sarcasm with grace and aplomb and wields a blowtorch like a pro. What a woman!

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