How Julia Child Taught Me About Rule-Breaking

juliachildrulesI’ve never been a very good rebel. I like safety nets, following the rules, and knowing what’s coming next. Yeah, I’m a bit of a control freak.

I’m inspired, then, by women who are able to throw caution to the wind and embrace the unknown. Julia Child was one of those women. I recently read a biography about her called Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo. What’s beautfiully ironic about the title is that Julia wasn’t much of a rule-follower herself. Each chapter of the book lays out a truism that Julia preached and practiced in her life. My favorite one was “Obey Your Whims” because, in whim-following, as well as in the kitchen, I have a lot to learn from Julia.

Julia was a big believer in not getting “stuck” on any certain path. When, during World War II, the Women Army Corps (WACs) rejected Julia for being too tall (she was six-foot-three), she didn’t give up on her goal of serving the war effort. She took the civil service exam and traveled to Washington, D.C., where she got a job with the OSS–the precursor to the CIA. The job took her to India, where she met Paul Child, the man she’d eventually marry. Paul, a man of refined tastes, was the reason she learned to cook. When presented with something unfamiliar or a new challenge, Julia’s attitude was “what the hell” and she’d roll up her sleeves and see what it was all about.

I, for one, know I could exercise a little less caution at times and a little more what-the-hell. How about you? I’ll leave you with this tidbit from the book:

“The best time to heed a whim is when we find ourselves stuck in life, when putting one foot in front of the other is only taking us further away from where we want to go, even though we don’t know where that is.”

Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo

Who inspires you to veer off the beaten path?


Author: Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

6 Replies to “How Julia Child Taught Me About Rule-Breaking”

  1. I liked Julia Child’s attitude. When she and her husband were living in France, she decided to learn the French language (or perhaps she already knew the language). She also went to the farmer’s market and talked to people in the French language. Some people would say she was a rebel and for her time and place, it looked like she was a rebel. I think she was ahead of her times. If she was a young woman in this century, can you imagine what she would accomplish?

    Still thinking about that quote regarding caution and taking chances.

  2. I remember watching her show on PBS when I was like 7. I learned how to make omelets from her. I didn’t realize until much later in life what a badass she was, though. I should definitely read more about her!

  3. “Yeah, I’m a bit of a control freak.”

    Remember what Joss Whedon says: “I am _not_ a control freak. I’m a control _enthusiast_.”

    See, that sounds much better.

    I’m very much not a control freak. One day, years ago, a friend called me up and said, “Do you write with the front of your brain?”

    “No,” was my response, “I write by the seat of my pants.”

    Still pretty much true.

  4. I also enjoyed Julia’s own book, My Life in France, and Bob Spitz’s 2012 biography, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. Took her years to find her passion, but when she did — well, American cooking, and American TV, have never been the same!

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