Julia Child was definitely one of my girlhood heroines. Growing up, I watched her on TV every Saturday evening with my family, as we celebrated food and togetherness through Julia Child. From Julia I learned that good food does not have to be pretentious. Still, I learned more than how to plate a dish or kill a lobster. She exuded confidence and grace, even when things went horribly awry in the kitchen. This grace under pressure, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and an undeniable zest for life were always present in Julia Child’s kitchen, alongside her compassion and warmth.

At ten years old, these thoughts weren’t so clearly formed in my mind, but the sentiment was there. This too-tall woman with a slightly funny voice wasn’t classically attractive, but she was a wonderful role model. She exuded real happiness and love in everything she did. As I learned later, Julia had been in the OSS during WWII, lived and traveled throughout the world, and yet was happy in the here-and-now.

I didn’t want to be a chef when I was a girl, and I don’t want to be one now, but Julia Child was about more than cooking, even though she changed how Americans approached food. She became an icon of cooking in America, but remained approachable and down-to-earth. Julia Child was confidant and happy, and lived life on her terms, not those of anyone else.

-Katie Weidmann

For more information, visit the PBS website for her biography and recipes or go on a multimedia tour of her kitchen at the Smithsonian.

Check back tomorrow to find out about a heroine who broke down an important barrier for women.

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