Picks and Pans Main: Books

updated 12/20/2010 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/20/2010 AT 01:00 AM EST

As Always, Julia

edited by Joan Reardon |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NON-FICTION

Julia Child was an exceptional character: cultural icon, television personality, raconteur, Francophile and cookbook author; a towering presence, literally and figuratively, until her death at age 91 in 2004. She comes booming back to life in these dishy missives between Child in Paris and her New York pen pal Avis DeVoto, written from 1952 to 1961. Artfully compiled by food historian Joan Reardon, the correspondence is as much social as culinary commentary, a generous serving of Child's bitingly incisive take on her times. "My brother ... writes to inform me ... that ... the only real red-blooded Americans are the Republicans. YE GODS," she complains in one letter. Ever irreverent, Child describes her experiment with French frozen food. "I have just served my poor husband the most miserable lunch... . It ain't French, it ain't good, and the hell with it." A delicious read and a significant contribution to our understanding of the world as Child knew it.

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