America’s Most Famous Expat Housewife – Julia Child

Your passport is stamped “Not Permitted to Take Up Any Employment” do you whither or do you soar?

Recently, I ran into an old banking colleague.  Like all new expats, her initial six months was flurried activity setting up house.  But now her life had settled.

She asked me “what do you all day when your “housewife” status becomes your reality?”

Like other freedoms, the freedom to do nothing can be an opportunity or a curse.

Some women use the time as an extended holiday: shopping, nightly parties and recuperating on the beach during the day.  Others sit alone in their house and complain about the differences.

Or you can be like Julia Child.

In the movie Julie and Julia, after attending her husband Paul’s glittering photo exhibit, Julia asked him “What should I do?”

He said, “What would you like to do?”

“I think I will take up hat making.”

Paul lifted his eyebrows at her and said “You like hats.”

Julia tried hat making.  She quickly became bored and tried bridge.  Bridge wasn’t enough.

However Julia found her love in Paris.

“I fell in love with French food – the tastes, the processes, the history, the endless variations, the rigorous discipline, the creativity, the wonderful people, the equipment, the rituals.”

She followed her love to the Cordon Bleu Cooking School.  It was there cutting onions and beating egg whites she found her passion.

“I was beginning to feel la cuisine bourgeoise in my hands, my stomach, my soul.”

Her passion led her to earn a degree in French cooking.  She and her two French friends started Les Trois Gourmande cooking school teaching American housewives how to cook.

During the eight years Paul’s assignments moved them from Paris to Marseille to Pottsdam to Oslo,  Julia perfected her recipes and typed out Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  When Paul retired and was left with an unstructured life ahead of him, it was Julia’s interest that saved them.  Their collaboration led to the first televised cooking show in 1963 when Julia was 51-years old.  She did not stop teaching until she was 88-years old.

To me, Julia’s life story is her most important legacy.  Married at forty, unable to have children, she found herself and her creativity outside the confines of her Pasadena, California upbringing.  Her life began the day she became an expat housewife and asked herself “What do I do?”

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme

Julia Child’s delightful autobiography is My Life in France.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and reading the book is a marvelous way to lift your soul.  If you only have two hours to spare, the movie Julie and Julia is a great alternative.

Julia Child and Meryl Streep from the Nora Ephron movie “Julie and Julia”

PS Today the Corden Bleu Cooking School specifically mentions Julia Child as one their notable graduates.


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