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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Julia

In theaters starting November 12 / Film & TV

In 1944, Julia Child—California-born, early 30s, and just over six feet tall—shipped from Washington, D.C., to India to become a spy (she was working for the O.S.S., precursor to the C.I.A.). By 1948 she’d moved to Paris with her new husband, Paul Child, a diplomat. Her first French meal—sole meunière—sealed her fate. In The French Chef, the groundbreaking cooking show Child created for television in the 1960s, the way she swings a butcher’s knife, or laughs as she prepares a chicken carcass for the oven, proves she found her true calling. The new biopic on Child—simply titled Julia—weaves together scenes from The French Chef and other television appearances, interviews with contemporary chefs (Ina Garten, José Andrés) and Child’s friends and family, and slightly suggestive closeups of red wine dousing onions and cheese bubbling in its own fat. Co-directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the duo behind the documentary RBG, the film often turns to Child’s life outside the kitchen, and pays special attention to the man who laid France at her feet, Paul Child, her fellow O.S.S. officer and gourmet, and a poet at heart. The documentary even includes her advice for a happy marriage: “the three Fs.” It stands for feed your man, flatter your man, and, well, you can guess the last. —J.D.

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