books,  food,  kitchen

Julia Child on Obeying Your Whims

juliachildrulesKickass women, from any period in history, never cease to inspire. Julia Child was one of those women, which is why multi-published author Karen Karbo chose to write about her for the latest book in the Kickass Women series, Julia Child Rules.  Other subjects in Karbo’s series—which are one part biography, one part humor essay, with a dash of motivational speaking tossed in—include Katherine Hepburn, Georgia O’Keefe, and Coco Chanel. Hmmm. Art, fashion, film, and food? Why have we never had lunch, Ms. Karbo? Oh, because you live in Portland.

Each chapter of Karbo’s book, Julia Child Rules, lays out a truism that Julia preached and practiced in her life. I just finished reading Chapter 4, “Obey Your Whims.” I’m a fairly risk-averse person (I did go to law school, after all). In whim-following, as well as in the kitchen, I have a lot to learn from Julia.

How refreshing, then, to read about someone who was a big believer in not getting stuck in any certain path. When, during World War II, the Women Army Corps (WACs) rejected Julia for being too tall (she was six-foot-three), she didn’t give up on her goal of serving the war effort. She took the civil service exam and traveled to Washington, D.C., where she got a job with the OSS–the precursor to the CIA. The job took her to India, where she met Paul Child, the man she’d eventually marry. Paul, a man of refined tastes, was the reason she learned to cook. When presented with something unfamiliar or a new challenge, Julia’s attitude was “what the hell” and she’d roll up her sleeves and see what it was all about.

I, for one, know I could exercise a little less caution at times and a little more what-the-hell. How about you? I’ll leave you with this tidbit from the book, which comes out tomorrow:

“The best time to heed a whim is when we find ourselves stuck in life, when putting one foot in front of the other is only taking us further away from where we want to go, even though we don’t know where that is.”

Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo


  • Lisa Alber

    Great post, Susan! I’m so in need of obeying my whims right now. I’ve been nose to the grindstone for months now.

    BTW, I can’t wait to hear about your Spain trip!

  • SusieR

    I soooo love (not LOVED, as I still adore her) Julia. And this book sounds fun! I’m going to be thinking all day about being more what-the-hell… it’s a terrific notion!

  • Style Maniac

    Love the concept of these books!

    My favorite lesson from Julia is “don’t apologize.” Her reasoning was that if you tell a guest the roast didn’t turn out quite right it puts them in the position of making you feel better (when really the host should be making the guests feel at ease) plus they will forever think, “She’s right. That roast didn’t turn out right.” Whereas if you proclaim it delicious all will believe that to be so.

    Works most of the time, I’ve found.