In honor of the upcoming cooking holiday we are reposting a book originally reviewed on July 18, 2015. Julia Child was the cook of all cooks, so we are also honoring her.
Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats
Patricia Barey and Therese Burson
Abrams Image, Abrams Books, 2012
Who knew Julia Child was a life-long cat lover? I only knew of her as someone who had a strange voice, was really tall and seemed to be able to cook very well. But, as we learn in this book, Julia fell in love with cats when she and Paul first lived in Paris. And because she spent her life moving around so much that she was unable to keep one permanently (her in-residence cats were always on loan from friends) until her last year of life. But everywhere she went if Julia wasn’t talking food, she was talking cats!
Chapter One: La Belle France: A New Life Begins – Julia and Paul move to Paris as newlyweds and set up housekeeping. She would soon find out mice were prevalent in her building as well as Paris and all good French housewives had at least one mouser in residence. She ended up with a tortieshell which she named Minette.
Chapter Two: And Kitty Makes Three: Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child – Minette settled into being the pampered, spoiled and plump cat of the house, feasting on every tidbit that fell to the floor as Julia was learning the art of French cooking.
Chapter Three: Mastering The Art of French Cooking – Julia goes to the famous Cordon Bleu, and Minette has her own reserved stool in her mistress’s kitchen. After four years Julia and Paul have to leave France for a new posting (Paul worked for the Foreign Service). Sadly, Minette must be left behind, but she is welcomed by a recently cat-widowed lady. This lady owned a charcuterie(sausage & meat shop), so the sweet feline would be well fed!
Chapter Four: Return to Paradise: A House in Provence – Julia and Paul lease property and build a small cottage close by their dear friends in Provence and are not only blessed with a whole cadre of felines on site, but they pick one to spoil and name him le PetitPrince. They were only in Provence for short stays before crossing back to America. They kept this up for many years, and with each visit, there were always enough cats around for Julia to indulge.
Chapter Five: From Cambridge to California: A Homecoming – By now Julia is widowed (Paul died in 1994) and a world famous cook (she didn’t consider herself a chef) and only visited Provence a few more times before finally settling in California. In 2004, Julia adopted her last kitten, Minou, whom she loved until her death in August, shortly before her 92nd birthday.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Julia Child with an emphasis on her love of cats versus her love of food. Oh, the food-love was in the book and the descriptions of fresh vegetables and cooked meals made me hungry every time I read it. But it was surprising and joyous to know her three favorites were food, cats and her Paul (though not always necessarily in that order!).
If you want a quick look at the life of Julia Child, a brief travelogue of France, and a life-long romance between best friends, this is the book for you! And, it wouldn’t be a book about a world famous cook without a recipe, so one is included on the very last page of the book. It is Julia’s recipe for Langues-de-chat (Cat’s Tongue Cookies) – delicate ladyfinger-like cookies – for humans, not cats!
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge: 2015, category, Read a Book Found on a Library Display. Auntie Sabina was wandering through the library looking for a book to read and she just happened upon this one!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because of all the wonderful cats!