Questions answered by Matthew Hughes (Manager, Global Education Programs)
Discussion Questions for My Life in France - Bridging Cultures
There’s no question that Julia Child falls in love with France at once. The descriptions she offers of her first weeks in Paris are hearty and romantic. She and her husband, Paul, are in their element, exploring the rich culinary and arts scene of the Île-de-France with gusto, savoring moments that take them outside their cultural comfort zones, and cherishing opportunities to befriend expats and locals alike.
Understandably, Julia is unable to keep her joy to herself. Along with two French friends, she endeavors to open the world of French cookery to the masses and, somehow, to demystify the French kitchen “for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children’s meals, the parent-chauffeur-den mother syndrome or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat.”
Julia’s joie de vivre is checked when she finds just how many challenges there will be in carrying prized traditional French recipes across the Atlantic. Publishers do not expect that American cooks, at the time bent on convenience and speed in food preparation, will be enticed by the encyclopedic and exacting recipes Julia relishes. Julia labors to find acceptable American substitutes for ingredients that are unmistakably French and to illustrate professional cooking methods that amateurs can mimic at home. She remains determined despite her collaborators’ warnings that any adjustments to the recipe to make them feasible in North America will mar their authenticity.
Thousands of recipes and numerous television series later, it is clear that Julia Child bridged two cultures. No matter whether her recipes precisely replicate French cooking, she was able to pull back the curtain on a central aspect of a vibrant culture for Americans in a way no one before her had done.
What challenges have you experienced when trying to make one culture accessible to another? Why were you ultimately successful, or what lessons did you learn that you will apply in the future?
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