Julia Child: The Height of Cooking

Nathan Chandler

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

In the 1950s, American cuisine was stuck in a fast-food, frozen TV dinner phase. Julia Child found a better way to eat -- and then cook -- and she shared her experiences with an adoring public. How much do you know about this quirky, fun-loving celebrity chef?

Child was a media personality known best for touting which activity?

Child was a celebrity chef back in the days when there was no such thing. She spread her love of cooking all over the world, particularly in the U.S.

Child didn't love to write, but she was involved with several books. What was the name of Child's first book?

Child was the phenom who brought French cooking to the American masses. Her first book (which she wrote with two other women), "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was a monumental bestseller.

Child loved French food. Where did she grow up?

Child was an all-American girl from Southern California. Her mother, however, was not a typical housewife who showed her daughter how to cook.

Growing up, what was Child's family like?

Her family had money. They even had a hired chef who made their meals … one reason that she never really learned to cook as a child.

Child had a memorable physique. How tall was she?

Child was a tall, tall woman. She measured 6 feet 2 inches tall, one of the reasons why she played basketball in her younger days.

As World War II erupted, Child attempted to join the Army's female branch (Women's Army Corps) but was rejected. Why?

Her extreme height was a disqualifying factor. Even the Army didn't have a place for such a tall woman. Instead, she became a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was in charge of classified intelligence.

Child was well-educated and had many writing and researching tasks for the OSS. During the war, where did she wind up serving?

Her military travels took her around the world and she wound up in Sri Lanka, where she worked with sensitive communications about the war. Then her group got one of the weirdest assignments ever.

During her time in Sri Lanka, Child's superiors asked her to do what?

Downed Allied servicemen were sometimes attacked by sharks, a fact that hurt morale. Child and her peers were told to figure out a shark repellant to keep the men safer.

Which ingredient turned out to be the most effective in the shark repellent recipe?

Copper acetate turned out to be fairly effective. Blended with other ingredients and formed into a disk, the material could be attached to a person or product. The disk would (mostly) ward off sharks for a few hours.

How did Child first develop a taste for fine foods?

Child's husband Paul was an artist who loved gourmet foods, and he introduced her to some amazing French cuisine. She was hooked.

Child and her husband Paul lived in Paris following World War II. How did she immerse herself in cooking?

She was enthralled with French cooking so she joined a cooking club. This experience was a crossroad of sorts because it led her to a new friend named Simone Beck. The two embarked on culinary adventures together.

Child spent much of her time abroad. She spoke French.

Her wartime (and post-wartime) exposure to France helped her hone her French skills. Along with Simone and another woman, she helped write a bestselling French cookbook, which Child then translated into English.

Child's cooking was known for its liberal use of which ingredient?

Butter (and more butter) was a recurring theme in Child's favorite recipes. These days, some health experts would raise an eyebrow at the prodigious amounts of butter she used.

Child's first cooking show appeared on TV in 1963. What channel was it on?

Her cooking show was on PBS. It became one of the most popular shows ever on the public network.

What was Child's approach to cooking?

Child was saddened by the way Americans approached cooking, as though meals were just another daily chore. She taught people to embrace a love of cooking and to make the kitchen a soulful, fun place.

Why was "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" rejected by the first publisher that the women approached?

The publisher rejected the manuscript because it was almost too detailed and structured like an encyclopedia. With a bit of tweaking, they finally found a buyer, and the rest is history.

Where did Child film her popular TV show?

Her husband Paul had a TV-quality studio built right into the couple's home kitchen. This helped Child make the show feel incredibly comfortable and homey.

Before moving to Paris during the war, what were Child's cooking skills like?

Her privileged childhood and military career didn't do her cooking skills any favors. She was a horrible cook until she immersed herself in cooking in her mid-30s.

Child said a singular (and now famous) meal opened her eyes to the joys of French food. With which appetizer did the meal begin?

The epic meal began with oysters and a bit of French bread. This was followed by browned fish, a salad, cheese, coffee, and of course, wine. Child's life was never same.

Child got her first big break in television thanks to a news show in which city?

She demonstrated an egg dish for a show on Boston's WGBH. Viewers immediately clamored for more from the memorable chef.

What was Child's on-air demeanor like?

Child brought a casual, joy-filled humor to cooking that made French cuisine seem accessible instead of difficult. Viewers fell in love with her style.

In 1970 big TV studios competed for Child's show. She made huge money thanks to a network contract.

Child was actually turned off by the big network approach to TV. She opted to stay with public broadcasting due to their more educational appeal.

Child was an amazingly popular TV show host. How many Emmys did she win?

In 1966, she won the first-ever Emmy for an educational TV show. She followed that up with two more, one in 1996 and one in 2001.

In the 1960s, Child encountered which health problem?

In the late 60s, doctors diagnosed Child with breast cancer. They performed a full, radical mastectomy, which left the normally cheerful woman in a depressed state.

In 1978, "Saturday Night Live" parodied Child's show, with actor Dan Aykroyd leading the way. How did she respond?

In the bit, Aykroyd pretends to be Child during a cooking show but slashes his hand ... and he keeps right on cooking while spewing blood all over the place. Child thought the sketch was hilarious.

Child kept her favorite cooking utensils in a special black satchel. What did she call it?

It was her "Sacred Bag," a pedestrian name for a bag containing all of her fine-tuned tools for cooking wonderful meals. Few people were allowed to touch her precious bag.

The shark repellant that Child helped to create was used by NASA to protect ocean landings all the way up until the 1970s.

Child once remarked that NASA was using the repellent in the 70s to protect both astronauts and spacecraft. But there's no completely concrete evidence of this claim.

How did Child's amazing life end?

Child moved into an assisted-living facility in 2001. Three years later she died from kidney failure just shy of her 92nd birthday.

How did Child's husband Paul cope with her off-the-charts success?

The two made a wonderful couple. Pau Child was content to hang out in the background assisting his wife whenever he could. He loved her celebrity status.

After her career ended, what happened to Child's famous in-home kitchen?

Child so transformed American cooking that her kitchen went to the Smithsonian museum. Visitors can see the famous kitchen with their own eyes.

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