In the late 90s I had a crush on an older woman. I was in my thirties and married. She was in her 80s, widowed with bad knees. Still, I was enthralled.

I was living in California at the time, doing postgrad studies. As an escape from the books, I watched old reruns of Julia Child’s The French Chef, the public broadcasting hit of the 1960s. Along with her book Mastering the Art of French Cookery, it was this odd little program that sent Julia’s popularity and culinary influence into the stratosphere. And there it remains.

Julia was in her 50s when it all began, a six-foot three, gainly woman from Pasadena with a distinctive warble to her voice. This force of domestic nature found her way into the hearts and kitchens of the American people in a way no one else has since. My crush on Julia was as common as butter. I just came to it late.

More recently I’ve read Bob Spitz’s biography, Dearie. It’s a tome at 500+ pages but is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Julia’s enthusiasm for life, her extraordinary loyalty to those she loved, her belated infatuation with classical French cookery, her resilience, her endless letter writing, and the joy she found in every day and every meal … it’s all wonderfully infectious. What a remarkable woman.

My crush continues.

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