Amuse Bouche: The Cocktail Party Guide To The Julia Child Controversy

The Cocktail Party Guide tells you what you need to know about the current controversies and issues in food in order to sound fascinating and well-informed at your next gathering. You can thank us in tips

We’d be willing to wager that if a nationwide survey was conducted asking Americans who they thought of when they heard the word “cooking”, Julia Child would come in at number one by a landslide. Child is widely considered to be the woman who brought European cooking to the masses and single-handedly revolutionized home cooking, food television, and cookbook writing. As a Cambridge resident for the last 43 years of her life and a WGBH pioneer, Child’s memory is especially cherished by Boston-area foodies. Though Child passed away over two years ago, she has recently become embroiled in a minor scandal.

In this month’s issue of Boston Magazine, Laura Shapiro published an excerpt from her new book that suggested that Child may have possessed more than a soupçon of homophobia. Shapiro cites numerous instances of gay slurs and derogatory remarks about gay men in Child’s journals and correspondence. Shapiro does, however, make clear that Child’s attitude toward homosexuality became more complex over the span of her lifetime, citing her close friendship with the gay food icon James Beard as a major learning experience. Jacques Pepin, another Child confidante, has risen to her defense, saying that Child’s attitude was largely a product of the times.

While it certainly seems unlikely that this will turn into a major hullabaloo in the vein of Isiah Washington, it certainly promises to get people talking about Shapiro’s book, which hit shelves last Wednesday. People will be talking (talking ‘bout people) and now you can be one of them. Sweet.

Just a Pinch of Prejudice [Boston Magazine]
Famed Chef’s Bio Turns Down Heat on Child [Boston Herald]
Julia Child [Amazon]

Amuse Bouche: The Cocktail Party Guide To The Julia Child Controversy