8/15/2012 01:28:00 PM

It’s Julia Child’s Birthday, Celebrate With Her Cat or Lawrence, Julie & Julia

Pretty uncanny, right? 
Today is the day when everyone’s favorite trail-blazing lady-chef, Julia Child, would have turned 100 if she were still alive (though it’s worth noting that she did make it to a vigorous nearly-92).

In celebration of her centennial, an incredible mix of restaurants across the country (including Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA, Michael White’s Marea in New York City, and all of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans) are offering Julia-inspired French-food menus all week. Who could turn that down? Her cat, for one.

Once upon a time, before Julia was a household name, there was one who spurned her famed cookery. Who was the non-believer, you ask? A blasé femme parisienne by the name of Minette: Julia and Paul Child’s first cat. Minette was no hater, mind you; she was simply Parisian, and a cat, and perfectly happy to live with the Childs while holding firm to her old-world, European-feline ideals of what constituted good food. Non, it wasn’t zee boeuf bourguignon; it was zee fresh-caught wild mouse!

Don’t believe us? Another way to celebrate the chef’s centennial (and a good way to Julia yourself out with the kids) is Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, (Abrams, check it out here), by Susanna Reich (featuring illustrations by Amy Bates). Reich, who in a previous life (the 90’s) was a floral designer, met Julia in the events surrounding the star’s 80th birthday (was that really 20 years ago?). Her book showcases the cat that kept her company in the days before her meteoric rise from student at Le Cordon Bleu to author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to first-ever big star of a TV cooking show – and world’s first major female chef. Consistent with Julia’s legacy of keeping it real, the book’s dialogue uses only actual quotations from Julia herself. The afterword even includes a shout-out to her cat: “The more I cook, the more I like to cook. To think that it has taken me forty years to find my true creative hobby and passion (cat and husband excepted).”

If a children’s book isn’t up your alley, you can always catch up with our favorite Julia-obsessed (well, Julie & Julia) obsessed blogger, Lawrence Dai. His archives are a fun read. But Lawrence, come on - are you really not going to post today??


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