Chatting with Susanna Reich about Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles (+ a giveaway!)

“There is such a thing as magic, and the Beatles were magic.” ~ Paul McCartney

All art ©2015 Adam Gustavson

I remember February 9, 1964 like it was yesterday — the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show!

There, in my aunt’s living room, I tried to process the heart-swelling moment, the excitement, the energy, the burst-wide-open-never-be-the-same-again feeling. Just look at them! Those Edwardian suits, black pointy boots, cool haircuts! They were good looking, different, charming, revolutionary. I could barely breathe as Paul sang, “Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you . . . ”

My uncle bought “Meet the Beatles” for me from a record store downtown. I plastered the walls of my bedroom with Beatles pics I had cut out from teen magazines. I collected Beatles bubble gum cards and read everything I could get my hands on about John, Paul, George and Ringo. I began writing faithfully to a new penpal who lived in Liverpool, dreaming of the day when I could set foot on British soil.

I still count my lucky stars that I was just the right age to experience the onset of Beatlemania. As I grew up, so did their music. None of us could have foreseen the lasting impact they’d ultimately have on music history, composition, production and pop culture. Half a century later, they’re still number one.

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lapping up minette’s feast with susanna reich and amy bates (and a giveaway!)

“Those early years in France were among the best of my life. They marked a crucial period of transformation in which I found my true calling, experienced an awakening of the senses, and had such fun that I hardly stopped moving long enough to catch my breath.” ~Julia Child (My Life in France, Knopf, 2006).


We’ve set out our best red-and-white checked tablecloth today in honor of special guests Susanna Reich and Amy Bates, co-creators of the delectably enchanting picture book biography, Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams, 2012)!


Shortly after Julia and her husband Paul moved to Paris in 1948, they were adopted by “a mischievous, energetic poussiequette with a lovely speckled coat,” whom they named Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child. This sly, feisty feline instantly charmed her way into their hearts and became an important part of their lives, sitting on Paul’s lap during meals and stealing tidbits off his plate when she thought he wasn’t looking.

Julia with Minette, Paris, 1953 (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University)

In Minette’s Feast, we are treated to a scrumptious snapshot from those glorious, golden, transformational years of Julia’s culinary awakening through the eyes of her very first cat, who, as this story goes, adamantly preferred fresh mouse or bird to any of the future Queen of Cuisine’s offerings.

Day and night, the “luckiest cat in all of Paris . . . could smell the delicious smells of mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, cheese soufflés and duck pâtés.” C’est magnifique!

But whether Julia prepared something specially for Minette (fish heads with chicken liver custard), or presented her with tasty scraps from the day’s culinary experiments, for ravenous Mini, “there would always be mouse.”

*licks chops*

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summer blog hiatus

from “Summer Fun” by Marguerite Davis (1932) via katinthecupboard

Is it hot enough for you?

Whew! Summer is here in full force with record temps in the 100’s. Time to get out of the kitchen for a bit and relax in my imaginary hammock with a pitcher of ice cold lemonade, a plate of gingersnaps and a few good books.

Alphabet Soup will be on summer hiatus until early August, when we will happily celebrate the blog’s 5th birthday, and also the birthday of our favorite chef, author, foodie, and television personality Julia Child. Many of you probably know that Julia would have turned 100 on August 15th, and her longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, is leading the party with “JC100: A 100-Day Celebration of Julia Child,” which began in May and will run through the 15th. They have compiled a list of Julia’s top 100 recipes like Chocolate Mousse, Vichyssoise, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Roast Chicken, and have been releasing them one per day via social media (follow along via their Facebook Page, Twitter or Pinterest).

Also exciting: 100+ bookstores around the country are featuring her cookbooks and hosting special events, 100 restaurants nationwide are featuring Julia-inspired menus for Julia Child Restaurant Week (August 7-15), 100 designated bloggers are making her recipes and writing about them, and all kinds of articles and tributes are being posted online about the woman who once advised, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

Best of all, two very cool and awesome children’s picture books about Julia were released this year: Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich and Amy Bates (Abrams, 2012), and Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland (Schwartz & Wade, 2012). Both have been garnering well-deserved accolades and are quickly becoming collector’s items for adult fans as well as being embraced by kids who are “meeting” Julia for the first time.

I’m thrilled to report that Susanna, Amy and Jessie will all be dropping by to chat with us about their books and love for Julia, even share a favorite recipe or two! So brush up on your French and get your best bibs ready so we can all pop the celebration cork together! Of course your cats are also welcome to join us. ☺

In the meantime, I wish you a very Happy Independence Day tomorrow and a fun-filled, not-too-scorching July. If you have travel plans, do have a safe journey. For those planning stay-cations, happy reading and noshing and lazing about! That’s what summer is for, isn’t it?

Oh, just wanted to say a big HELLO and WELCOME to our new subscribers! Only too happy to sidle over and make room for you at the table. So happy you’ve decided to join us.

Stay cool, and I’ll see you all in August!

from “We Three, a Primer” by Grace P. Smith (1929) via katinthecupboard.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.