When author Bob Spitz got the opportunity to tour Sicily with Julia Child in 1992, he knew he’d end up writing her biography.
“We all think we know who Julia is from seeing her on TV,” says Spitz, “But she was so much more than that, she was so much more exciting and innovative.” Spitz grew up cooking from Child’s legendary cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and already knew what she had done for the American kitchen. But after spending a month with her in Italy, Spitz felt he had to publish his book to capture her full character.
“The only word I can use is relentless, she was relentless in her passion. That was intoxicating for people around her and for those of us who watched her on TV and that’s what I was trying to capture.”
Spitz didn’t get a chance to complete the book before Child died in 2004, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday on August 15. He calls the project a labor of love and his time in Italy with Child one of the highlights of his life. Spitz will be joining several authors at the Smithsonian to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Child’s birth.
The American History Museum, home to Child’s Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen, will be hosting a full day of events this Wednesday, beginning with an 11 a.m. book signing with Alex Prud’homme, author of My Life in France. The museum will also screen episodes of “The French Chef” and host a discussion with producer Geoff Drummond (“Julia and Jacques,” “Baking with Julia”). Spitz will sign copies of his new book, Dearie, The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, at 2:30 p.m. Jessie Hartland, author and illustrator of Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child, will also sign copies of her book at 1:30 p.m.