“Text Is Simply Written For Persons Who Enjoy Cuisine”

In 1961, Craig Claiborne, the New York Times food editor (and the first man to hold such a post among American newspapers), reviewed a just-published volume from Alfred A. KnopfMastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Claiborne described the volume (priced at $10) as “probably the most comprehensive, laudable and monumental work on the subject” of French cuisine written in English.

He praised the the recipes (“glorious”), noted the six pages devoted to the preparation of a cassoulet (“not a wasted syllable”), and complimented the line drawings (“[they] supplement and speak more eloquently than words”). And he predicted that the book, almost a decade in the making, would “probably remain as the definitive work for nonprofessionals.”

And indeed, he was right.

Copyright ©The New York Times. Published October 18, 1961

The upcoming centenary of the great Julia Child

Julia photographed by her husband, Paul Child, in 1948—the year they arrived in Paris.

I had come to the conclusion that I must really be French, only no one had ever informed me of this fact. I loved the people, the food, the lay of the land, the civilized atmosphere, and the generous pace of life.” ―Julia Child, My Life in France

Julia Child’s 100th birthday is August 15. You know she would have liked the party. The woman who made coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon both household words and meals on American tables in the 1960s is being well fête-ed by Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

There’s a clever Facebook page that’s cataloging “JC100” events at bookstores, dinners at restaurants, and blog posts from Julia fans around the country who are cooking up their favorite recipes.

Start planning dinner now. You’ll need butter.