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Julia Child Inspiration, on Her 104th Birthday

Born in 1912, Julia Child would have celebrated her 104th birthday today. I never got to meet Julia; she died in 2004, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday. But I’ve felt her spirit.

With Jacques Pépin, Julia co-founded the MLA in Gastronomy Program at Boston University, which began offering courses as early as 1991. It was one of the first graduate programs for the study of food, which Julia and Jacques adamantly believed in. In those early years, Julia defended the burgeoning course of study in the the New York Times, saying:

There’s a lot more to the field than cooks piddling in the kitchen. It’s high time that it’s recognized as a serious discipline.

Every matriculating BU Gastronomy student feels a connection to Julia’s legacy, her lineage. I started my degree in Gastronomy in 2011, but Julia was still there. For instance, the demonstration kitchen was built for Julia’s estimable height, making the counter and cooktop higher than standard, and a bit of a stretch for we shorter folk. Her sturdy metal stool resides in the room as well, a memento of her, and a special spot for both established and rising food studies scholars to feel her presence.

The internet also abounds with Julia quotes: witty, inspirational, empowering, funny. I’ve borrowed a few below:

The one that inspires me the most as I continue on this journey to the PhD and (hopefully) a life in academia is:


On this blog, these words are always in the footer below—a constant, supportive reminder of the passion and joy, tenacity and resolve that any worthwhile endeavor requires. On the days when progress feels stagnated or the future uncertain, I also take a second to take a deep breath and remember that Julia, our goddess of food in every possible way, didn’t find her life’s calling until her late 30s. I still have time. To all the late Millennials worried about the world we’ve inherited, we have time.

And for so many of us, the BU Gastronomy program provided and provides not only a site for rigorous academic pursuits, but also a journey, a jumping off point, a path that leads to a passionate life. It’s a place where Julia lives on.

To celebrate her birthday further, I’ve rounded up four of my previous articles on Julia Child and hope they satisfy your craving for a little piece of Julia on her special day. Though truly, her spirit, her lessons, her joy are all around us.

1960s Wine Advice1. How Julia Child And Cookbooks Taught Us About Wine
August 22, 2014

In this Zester Daily article, I compare Julia’s advice on wine to that offered by other cookbooks published around the same time. As she did with French cuisine, Julia expects, encourages, and supports readers to rise to the challenge of perfectly pairing wines. Like any good teacher, her own love for learning gushes out, as she provides the environment and tools that her students will need to succeed. Then she gives them a little push to get started, to jump in, to really and truly discover it for themselves.


2. An Interview with Stephanie Hersh, Julia Child’s Long-time Assistant
August 15, 2012

Written as part of Gastronomy at BU’s celebration of what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday in 2012, this piece is an interview with Julia’s full-time assistant of nearly 16 years—and the BU Gastronomy program’s first graduate—Stephanie Hersh.

JC100_Logo_highres3. 15 Delightful Ways to Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Today
August 15, 2012

This post is a round up of the many multi-media pieces that were produced to celebrate Julia, her work, and her life on her centenary. This compilation of 15 articles to read, videos to watch, segments to listen to, and ways to cook, eat, and enjoy her food can also be the perfect way to celebrate her at 104.

Image from:

4. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…About Julia Child
September 24, 2012

Inspired by the Siting Julia symposium, a day long Julia-fest hosted by Harvard’s Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, this piece covers the four most wonderful things about Julia that I took from the day’s events.

Header photo credit: Emily Contois, 2014


    • Emily Contois says

      So glad you share in the Julia love and that you had the opportunity to meet her. Thanks for sharing your great recipe for a Julia classic!


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