The Meal That Made Julia Child Fall In Love With Food

Julia Child's indelible legacy spans, and even extends beyond, the various roles she occupied throughout her life and career as a chef, cooking teacher, television personality, and cookbook author. "The French Chef," which debuted in 1963 on Boston's public television station WGBH, is credited with pioneering "an entire genre of cooking shows" (via PBS). More importantly, perhaps to a greater extent than anyone before or since, Child introduced Americans to French cuisine, teaching a generation of American home cooks the essential techniques and ingredients pour cuisiner en français.

However, Child's iconic recipes for boeuf bourguignon, moules a la mariniere, and Chantilly aux Framboises are a far cry from the foods with which she grew up as a child in Pasadena. These, she said, were limited to "roasts and vegetables and fresh peas and mashed potatoes" because "my mother came from New England." The trajectory of Child's career in food is all the more surprising considering that her sights were set not on Paris, but New York, where she hoped to write for the New Yorker (or, at the very least, Time or Newsweek) (via NPR).

Sometimes, a single meal can be so sublime that it becomes etched in one's memory forever. For Julia Child, it was not just an unforgettable dish, but one that launched her career — a career that would forever change the landscape of food and cooking from America to France and beyond.

Documentary reveals the dish that turned Julia Child into an icon

"Julia," a documentary about the iconic chef and cookbook author released on May 30, includes reels of archival footage offering fans an intimate glimpse into Julia Child's life and career (via CNN). Child, having desires of writing for a magazine in New York, met her husband Paul in Sri Lanka while they both were serving in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Paul's job brought the couple to Paris in 1948, during which time Child was in her late 30s (via the CIA).

Their first French meal, though, was in Normandy, at La Couronne, a restaurant whose website boasts it's the oldest inn in France, having served customers including Joan of Arc and Pierre Corneille. At that storied 600-year-old establishment, Child had her first bite of sole meunière — and "it came upon me that it was what I was looking for all my life."

The meunière preparation of Dover sole — which, according to Restaurante Christopher, has a meaty texture and delicate, sweet flavor — involves seasoning the fish with salt and pepper before it's dredged in flour and cooked in a hot pan. The dish is served with a brown butter sauce that's brightened up with lemon, fresh parsley, and often capers (via CNN). A recipe by Melissa Clark in The New York Times Cooking has some modifications, but begins with a headnote explaining sole meunière is the dish that "made Julia Child fall in love with French cuisine."