It’s summer vacation season, a time for hitting the road and taking trips—or just daydreaming about fantasy destination spots. Here’s a dream vacation idea for you: Fifty-four years after Julia Child shot the first episode of her groundbreaking cooking program The French Chef, a family shook up Airbnb (and the Julia Child Foundation) with its listing of Julia Child’s cottage in Provence, France. There, guests can “rent the three-bedroom cottage that catalyzed the food movement in 1970’s Provence” while cooking in Child’s famous kitchen.
For those of us who won’t be making the pilgrimage to France, David Nussbaum’s transcribed interviews with Child offer a wonderful glimpse into Child’s humor, work ethic, dogged cooking principles, and unwavering sense of taste. In delightful exchanges about the virtues of Hellman’s mayonnaise as opposed to homemade (about which Child explains “You are supposed to like it better—but I don’t know that I do!”) or Child’s skeptical views on salt (“I just don’t want to be bothered with three kinds of salt and such things. There’s enough clutter in the kitchen anyway”), Nussbaum brings readers along with him into Child’s kitchen.
Famed chef Patrick Healy also recalls tales of his time spent in Child’s kitchen. During his first visit to the south of France, Healy describes the pivotal moment he was inspired to become a chef—all thanks to Julia’s contagious zeal for cooking and a little French cottage lovingly termed La Pitchoune, or “the little one.”
Healy first came to stay with his grandma Harriet who rented the other cottage on Jean Fishbacher’s estate. He returned during subsequent summers, serving first as a butcher’s apprentice and next as apprentice to Roger Vergé at Le Moulin. His descriptions of his time on La Pitchoune’s estate are most mesmerizing, particularly knowing the way in which his time there with his grandma, Julia and Paul Child, and Simca and Jean Fishbacher impacted his life’s course.
“As I stepped out of the shower on our first morning there, I heard the high fluttering voice of Julia Child wafting up from the kitchen below. It always amazed me how her voice traveled.” Whether through armchair travels via articles and reminiscences or by jetsetting to La Pitchoune itself, the memories of Julia Child offer us all a repose from the summer sun and a restoration of stomach and soul.