Chatting with Author Erin Hagar about Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures

I’m doubly excited to welcome Baltimore-based author Erin Hagar to Alphabet Soup: her very first published children’s book hits shelves today, and it’s about one of my favorite people, Julia Child!

Though there have been several good picture books about Julia published in recent years,  solidly researched middle grade biographies about her are few and far between. Not only is Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures (DuoPress, 2015) a lively, engaging read, it contains six beautiful full-page watercolor illustration sequences by Joanna Gorham interspersed between chapters.

Erin traces Julia’s life from her childhood as a fun-loving prankster in Pasadena to her death in 2004 as a much beloved cookbook author, teacher, and television celebrity. We read about how Julia met and fell in love with Paul Child while working overseas for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), how when they moved to France Julia discovers her life’s passion and attends Le Cordon Bleu, how she started a cooking school and collaborated on Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Simone Beck Fischbacher and Louisette Bertholle, and finally, how she launched her television career on WGBH Boston.

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Author Chat: Kyo Maclear on Julia, Child (+ a giveaway!)

Look what’s officially hitting shelves today!

This charming, whimsical tale very loosely inspired by the real life friendship of Julia Child and Simone Beck is cooked to fingertip-kissing perfection and definitely has my name written all over it.

I literally squealed with delight when I first saw Julie Morstad’s scrumptious, I-could-just-eat-you-all-up ink, gouache and Photoshop illos — so many adorable details and the childlike sophistication is oh-so-français. 🙂

True, this book had me at the cover, but when I read Kyo Maclear’s spritely celebration of good food, friendship, fearlessly pursuing your passions, growing young, and never forgetting how to have a marvelous time, I could almost hear the real Julia’s rousing cheer, chirrup and hoot of approval. After all, it was she who said, “That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.”

In Julia, Child (Tundra Books, 2014), we meet cooking buddies Julia and Simca, who firmly believe it’s “best to be a child forever” and are therefore dismayed by all the big, busy, hurried, “wary and worried” grown-ups around them.

Art © 2014 Julie Morstad

What to do? Cook special ‘growing young’ recipes, of course. They whip up a delectable feast complete with “fluffy clouds of cheese soufflé,” “perfect loaves of crusty baguette,” and “a golden compote of fresh peaches, sweet as summer sunlight . . . ” Magnifique!

The big busy people devour every morsel, but something isn’t right. Talk about greedy and grabby! Can the girls come up with another recipe to turn these adults into sensible children once again?

I’m so pleased Toronto-based author Kyo Maclear is here today to talk about this mouthwatering story, her best job ever, and what she’s learned from her children. Put on your best bib, help yourself to some Wonder Seeds, and bask in the joie de vivre. Bon Appétit!

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nine cool things on a wednesday

“Vegetable Soup” by Malgorzata Lewandowska-Zych via They Draw & Cook (click to enlarge)

1. Love this “Vegetable Soup” recipe poem by Polish artist Malgorzata Lewandowska-Zcyh — her name’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Just like a big spoonful of yummy soup containing carrots, celery, potatoes, beans, cauliflower and parsley. “Malgorzata” = Margaret.  This is one of the best illustrated recipes I’ve seen at They Draw & Cook.

2. Speaking of which, there’s now a They Draw and Cook for Kids! Ebook available for download on your iPad. You get 20 recipes for only $1.99. Here are three samples:

“English Muffin Pizza Faces” by Alison Kolesar (click to enlarge)
“Pretzel S’mores” by Jennifer Bell
“Ants on a Log” by Stefan Jolet

3. Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I’ve already ordered several of these adorable macaron trinket boxes via Waiting on Martha. You can purchase them individually (light pink, rose, pistachio, lavender, yellow, peach) or as a set of 12, which comes in a pretty lavender presentation box. Great stocking stuffers or bridesmaids gifts. Which reminds me, I haven’t actually eaten a macaron in ages. If you feel like sending me some, feel free :)!

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we have three winners!

Today I’m happy to announce the winners of our Julia Child picture book giveaways, as well as the winner of the Alphabet Soup 5th Birthday Giveaway.

I am determined to proceed with the utmost decorum, hoping for smooth sailing and absolutely no monkey business. Regular readers may recall past giveaways which involved jealousy and in-house fighting, the appearance of mustached imposters, and bribes desperate pleas to Monsieur Random Integer Generator, whom a prominent blogger in Singapore called “hot.”

*fans self*

Merci beaucoup to all who commented, shared their favorite soups, French foods, and reasons why they love Julia. It was the best of 100th birthday celebrations; those of you who zipped around the internet that week know there was an unprecedented outpouring of love for our favorite Queen of Cuisine.

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a little julia childish lunch, or, filling a tall order

Chef Ris Lacoste (front left) hosted Julia’s 90th birthday dinner at 1789 in 2002 (via Washington Post).

The Sunday after Julia’s 100th birthday, Len and I had lunch at RIS, an “upscale neighborhood café,” located in the Foggy Bottom district of Washington, D.C. I thought it would be fun to eat at one of the places participating in National Julia Child Restaurant Week.

RIS exterior via Laura Padgett

Besides, it was a good chance to check out RIS, the culmination of Chef Ris Lacoste’s illustrious two decade career in the D.C. area, where among other things, she served as Executive Chef at one of our favorite restaurants, 1789 in Georgetown. Ris (short for ‘Doris’), first met Julia when she was 26 and Julia was 70, as she was graduating from La VaRenne Écôle de Cuisine in Paris. Over the years, Ris encountered Julia many times; Julia frequented a couple of the restaurants Ris worked at in New England, and there were many meetings, dinners and other official events associated with the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF).

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