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Interview with Julia Child

Aired August 15, 2002 - 21:00   ET


JULIA CHILD, CHEF: Welcome to "The French Chef." I'm Julia Child.


LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, Julia Child. She turns 90 today. The original queen of TV cuisine has done it all -- even being a spy.

What a life! Julia Child -- it's her 90th birthday. She's with us for the hour, and she's next on LARRY KING LIVE.


CHILD: Here's to everybody. Bon appetit.


KING: Today is August 15th. It is the 90th birthday of our distinguished guest, Julia Child. Her newest book - or most recent book - is "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom." There is also a tape associated with that - "Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom." It is available everywhere.

What is it like to be 90?

CHILD: Just about the same as it was to be 89, Larry.

KING: No, did - when you were young, did you think you'd reach 90?

CHILD: No, I didn't think - I didn't think get beyond 30.

KING: Oh...

CHILD: I mean, that seemed so old - 30. Didn't you think so?

KING: Thirty seemed old to me ...

CHILD: Very old.

KING: ... when I was 15, yeah.


KING: But I mean, like, 90 - it's like ...

CHILD: And then you get used to it.

KING: Do you feel 90?

CHILD: No. I feel just the same.

KING: Do you feel ...

CHILD: Just about the same as I did when I was four years old, really.

KING: Do you ...

CHILD: How about you? Do you notice any difference from ...

KING: No, I don't.

CHILD: ... one year to the next?

KING: Some little aches and pains, but basically ...

CHILD: No, not - basically, no.

KING: So basically, Julia, what we're saying is, you don't know what you do want to be when you grow up?

CHILD: No. I'll be the same person, I think.

KING: You - this birthday is also, you tell me, the birthday of Napoleon.


KING: And of Louis the Fourteenth. So, now, Napoleon had that pastry named after him.

CHILD: Yeah, he did. I don't know what they called after Louis XIV - something, probably.

KING: Well, what are we - we have to have a Julia Child dish.

CHILD: Well, we have a tomato named after me, which is just getting ripe now up in the Carmel Valley.

KING: What about a dish? Would it be appropriate to have, you know, a Julia Child salad, or Julia Child ...

CHILD: I just love a fresh ripe - red, ripe tomato. I think there couldn't be ...

KING: That's good enough.

CHILD: ... anything better. That's good enough.

KING: But when you want it sliced, you want it served in a Julia Child salad? Or do you just want it served ...

CHILD: I'd like it on a nice big piece of white bread slathered with Hellman's mayonnaise, and then slices of that ripe tomato on top of it. And just ...

KING: And what should we call it?

CHILD: ... eat it with a knife and fork. You can call it the Julia Child tomato sandwich.

KING: A Julia Child tomato sandwich is hereby ordained ...


KING: ... on this show.

How did - how did you and food start?

CHILD: Well, I was born hungry. And then when I, when ...

KING: Born where, Julia?

CHILD: ... I married my husband, Paul, whom I think you met years ago, ...

KING: Yes, I did. Where you born?

CHILD: I was born in Pasadena, California.

KING: Right up the road.

CHILD: Right up the road, in 1912. And I was born hungry, and then after I married Paul, who had been used to good food - his mother was a wonderful cook - I realized I would have to do something if I was going to catch him.

And I took three or four cooking lessons in Beverly Hills, here, with two old girls. It was called the Hillcliffe (ph) School of Cookery.

KING: How old were you?

CHILD: I was about 25 or 26.

KING: So up to then you had no interest.

CHILD: Well, I always liked to eat, but I hadn't done any cooking.

KING: In other words, you didn't think you would be a cook.


KING: No, but Paul could cook ...

CHILD: Then I started cooking. I started cooking out of "Gourmet" magazine and "The Joy of Cooking." We were living in Washington, D.C.

And then, because Paul had been brought up in France and spoke beautiful French, and this was just after World War II, he got a post in Paris in the U.S. Information Agency in the cultural section.

And I remember we went over to France on the boat. Those - in that period, there wasn't much flying. We had our old blue Buick, and it bounced on the earth of France, and we drove to Rouen.

And I had my first French meal and I never got over it. It was just marvelous. We had oysters and a lovely dry white wine. And then we had one of those lovely scalloped dishes and the lovely, creamery buttery sauce.

Then we had a roast duck and I don't know what else. But from then on I was ...

KING: Cholesterol incarnate.

CHILD: ... I never had eaten that way before, and it just got to me.

KING: By the way, just before we get into lots of things, what makes France special vis-a-vis cooking? What do they do ...

CHILD: Well, they take it very seriously. It's really a national sport.

For instance, you'll see two businessmen going out to lunch in a restaurant, and they study the menu and they talk with themselves, and they talk with the waiter.

They don't just order something, like that. They really think about it.

KING: So this is cultural.

CHILD: It's cultural.

KING: Are they, all things being equal, the best?

CHILD: I think so. Well, the Chinese used to be awfully good. I don't know how they are now.

The northern Chinese food was absolutely delicious, I think.

KING: Are French portions generally smaller?

CHILD: Much, much smaller, I think.

KING: And wine is major part of the French meal.

CHILD: Yes, but they don't gulp it down. I mean, they don't abuse it, I don't think.

KING: Where the spying come in? CHILD: Well, I was never a spy. I was with the OSS organization. We had a number of women, but we were all office help.

KING: That was the precursor of the CIA.

CHILD: Right, it was.


CHILD: And they had us over there, you know, typewriting and secretarial work. And I was a file clerk all during the war.

KING: Did you know what was going on, though? Did you ...

CHILD: Well, I thought I ...

KING: ... have - privy to ...

CHILD: ... I thought I did. I don't know. They probably had super secret things that I didn't see.

KING: Who was that fellow that started that?

CHILD: Colonel "Wild Bill" Donovan.

KING: "Wild Bill" Donovan.

CHILD: He was a wonderful fellow - rather small, kind of rumpled, piercing blue eyes. Definitely, if you gave him a book or a paper, he could just read it like that, you know. I don't know whether that's actually possible.

KING: How did you come to get that job?

CHILD: Well, I always - almost everyone I knew who could rushed to Washington during the war to be into help to save our country.

And I had some friends who were in the organization, so I applied. And they just wanted bodies. And I, so I ended up in his private files, which was wonderful.

KING: Well, of course, they did a lot of wild things, the OSS.

CHILD: Presumably.

KING: You know, like - well, presumably - paratroopers behind enemy lines ...


KING: ... secret weapons.

CHILD: And collecting natives of the other side and training them to spies and so forth.

KING: And language teaching - languages. CHILD: Language.

KING: Did you feel part of it, though, even though you were just ...

CHILD: Well I did, because if you're part of the files, you were an integral part, though on a very low level.

I finally got an oak leaf cluster. And I got a good combat medal with an oak leaf cluster. So, and that's pretty nice.

KING: Now, as we understand, to celebrate your 90th, so many things are going on. There are restaurants are having special dinners honoring her and she's going to tour ...

CHILD: Well, it's a good - it's a good way for fundraising. Anything that we can do to raise funds to help people in our profession, I'm all for.

KING: Twenty restaurants around the nation are holding fundraising dinners in your honor. The money will go for chef training scholarships.

CHILD: Exactly.

KING: There are a lot of women chefs now, aren't there.

CHILD: There are quite a lot.

KING: Chef used to mean "man."

CHILD: Well, it means ...

KING: Didn't it?

CHILD: ... it means the head of a kitchen.

KING: I know. But usually when you heard the word chef, ...

CHILD: Well, you thought of - you thought of a man.

KING: ... yeah. When did women start entering this seriously?

CHILD: Well, not too terribly long ago. Around in the '50s, '60s, I think.

KING: Yeah, because ...

CHILD: There's always - we've always had some women chefs, but not very many.

KING: But generally, if you walked into a restaurant, and someone said, I want you to meet the chef, it was a man.

CHILD: Oh, practically always.

KING: Our guest is Julia Child. She is 90. She is an American institution. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (SINGING) Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Julia. Happy birthday to you.





CHILD: I think a lot of us get into a terrible meat rut. It's always steaks, chops, saddle of lamb, beef Wellington or hamburgers.

Well, here's a little change of pace with sweetbreads and brains.


KING: We're back with Julia Child. By the way, Julia Child, her kitchen - I was going to say, she is - her kitchen is going on display at the Smithsonian.

It's the beating heart of her home. It is very practical, she says. It's not fancy design or type - your kitchen will be in the Smithsonian?

CHILD: It will. Isn't that something?

KING: What is special about the Julia Child kitchen?

CHILD: Well, it's really kind of a kitchen-living room, because we've always entertained in the kitchen. If you come into our house for dinner, Larry, you'd be brought right into the kitchen, sat at the table, and given a glass of wine. And then I would go on with the cooking.

KING: Why eat in the kitchen?

CHILD: Well, I think if you're the cook - if you're the cook and the hostess, it's an awful nuisance to have to run back and forth into the living room. If you're right there in the kitchen, you can serve things up much more easily and much better.

KING: Unless you have dinner for 20, and then you've got to ...

CHILD: For 20. And then you're going to get some help.

KING: By the way, is it different when you cook for many? Or is the good cook the good cook?

CHILD: Oh, it's terrible. I think it's very hard to cook for many. It's an entirely different art form.

KING: Explain.

CHILD: Well, institutional cooking, I mean, anything that is more than about 12 is certainly - it gets almost institutional. You can't take the individual attention to each dish that you would otherwise.

For instance, we went over to England last year on the QE II - 1,600 guests. And we went through the kitchens, and here would be this enormous oven cooking 400 ducks at the same time.

You can't give each one of those ducks its own personal attention, can you.

KING: So, you can tell that in the taste.

CHILD: You can - you think that this could have been a little more flavor there, or something there. Maybe a little more cooked here.

But you don't have the time to really - if you're very good the way they were on the QE II, you make it look that way. But if you know about cooking, you realize that it (INAUDIBLE) ...

KING: Are there certain cooks who are good at cooking for many and not great at cooking for a few?

CHILD: Oh, yes. If you're just - I mean, I think it's an entirely separate art form, cooking for many.

KING: Like theater and movies.

CHILD: Exactly. Exactly.

KING: You also have - do you have a very high tech kitchen or a low tech kitchen? Are you into ...

CHILD: It's ...

KING: ... buttons and computers?

CHILD: ... sort of a medium tech. No, I like - for instance, I just have a new kitchen in my place in Santa Barbara now, and it has a very high tech oven. It tells you - you can't tell it. And I'm going to tame that oven, so that I can boss it.

KING: It tells you.

CHILD: Yes, it tells ...

KING: Explain.

CHILD: ... so the turn - so it has all kinds of buttons and things. And it doesn't have a book that tells you how it works. I'm going to - if I can't tame it, I'm going to throw it out.

KING: Did you ... CHILD: But in my kitchen that's in the Smithsonian, we have a great big old restaurant stove, and you can do anything you want with it. But you're the boss.

KING: Can you teach being a chef? What's your ...

CHILD: Well, I think a chef is something very different than a cook. You can certainly keep your cook.

KING: Explain that to me.

CHILD: Well, when you're chef, you're in charge of the whole kitchen, so you have to know a great deal about buying and shopping and ordering people around, and so forth.

But being a cook is how to proceed to roast a chicken, for instance.

KING: So you can take someone and make them a pretty good cook.

CHILD: Yes, you can - if they like to eat. If they don't like to eat, they will never quite have the right feeling for things, probably.

KING: But a chef, that's a whole different ballgame.

CHILD: The chef is, yes, he's ...

KING: So in these, when I read of these schools where people go to learn to be chefs in France and the like, they're learning about things other than just cooking, right?

CHILD: Presumably. They have to learn how to cook first. And then they learn how to be a chef if the school is really well run.

KING: And then there are specialists, right. There are some people who are just dessert chefs.

CHILD: Yes. Or just pastry ...

KING: Pasty chefs.

CHILD: ... or just salad or just bread, or whatever.

KING: You mean a guy can, could work full time making only salads.


KING: You become - it's like a heart specialist.

CHILD: Exactly. Exactly.

KING: What is Julia Child's specialty?

CHILD: Well, because I've done a lot of television, I'm sort of a generalist. I'm not a pastry cook, but I've had to learn a certain amount about it. I'm not a baker, though I've had to learn how to do it. I'm sort of a general cook.

KING: How did you get on to television?

CHILD: Well, after our first book came out, it was ...

KING: You and your husband?

CHILD: ... about the same time that public television was beginning. It was called educational television.

And at that point, they had mostly academic heads talking. And they wanted to enlarge the audience. So they got an art show, and they got a science show.

And I had just done a book review show, so they knew I was a cook. So they said, would you like to try a cooking show?

So that's how I got on - just by change.

KING: You remember your first show?

CHILD: I do, indeed. It was - I think the first show was beef bourguignon. It was either that or coq au vin.

KING: Did you have an audience?

CHILD: No, we didn't. We were in a - we were in the gas company of Boston. And we clanked down in the cellar with all of our stuff. We had to set it up ourselves and do it ourselves.

KING: Were you nervous?

CHILD: No, I wasn't nervous. But we managed to get it - luckily we - I had my husband Paul was with me, and my producer, and a good friend who was my sort of general director.

We had a good time trying it out. But I remember, I think the second or the third show we did was French onion soup, and I felt there was so much that we had to do, that I kept galloping through it, and we had nine minutes - we were nine minutes too soon.

KING: The soup was done.

CHILD: And so, it was done. There wasn't much else to say. So that taught us that we had to divide things up into sections.

KING: How many years you've been on television?

CHILD: Over 40, I think. When did I start? Sixty-three - almost 40 years ...

KING: About 40 years.

CHILD: ... ago, yes. KING: Still enjoy it when you do it?

CHILD: Very much. Well, it's fun, I think, when you're doing the whole series. It's like being in a big family. You know everybody so well, and we - and then we always ate everything that we cooked, so it was very jolly and nice.

KING: And you got famous. And we'll talk about that in a minute - maybe the most famous - certainly the most famous American chef on television, and what she thinks of the newer wave, as well.

Julia Child is our guest. Don't go away.


CHILD: You want to keep the mouth open so that you can put an apple in. So I just use a ball of aluminum foil. I'm going to stick that in the mouth, and that keeps the mouth open while the pig is roasting.

You can use a block of wood or a doorknob - anything that you can get in.

And also, you have the tail here. This piggy has a little tiny tail. And just stick it - there's a little hole in the back there, and just stick the tail in there, and that'll keep the tail from burning.





CHILD: So here you are ...


CHILD: I'll put the cookie sheet underneath it.

PEPIN: Underneath? What for.

CHILD: Yes. So that if the drips come down ...

PEPIN: They fall in there.

So you put it ...

CHILD: We're talking about the ...

PEPIN: ... under the wire rack.

CHILD: Yeah.

PEPIN: So if the juice fall, it mess up your wire rack and fall on the tray.


PEPIN: This is a very good idea, you know, I've never done that.

CHILD: Well, I'm glad I can present you one good idea.

PEPIN: Yeah.


CHILD: A great compliment. We don't need to bother ...

PEPIN: No, but see ...

CHILD: ... oh, because of the paper ...

PEPIN: ... but see it - for the paper to stick ...

CHILD: ... we don't need to cite (ph) butter, because we were going to ...

PEPIN: No, see, yes ...

CHILD: ... a little butter.

PEPIN: ... yes, because I'm going to ...

CHILD: OK. Well, the more butter the better.

PEPIN: So ...

CHILD: So that's fine.



KING: The laugh and times of Julia Child. She's 90 years old. She's an American treasure, and they're celebrating it all over the country - at the Smithsonian, at restaurants honoring her.

You were bicoastal for a while, right? You lived in ...

CHILD: I was.

KING: ... a long while.

CHILD: We lived in ...

KING: You lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and California.

CHILD: ... and California.

KING: And did you go back and forth a lot? CHILD: Well, we did. We came out here in the winter time, which was very sensible. Or, before that, we went over to France, to the south of France.

KING: Paul died about eight years ago, right?

CHILD: He died in '94.

KING: How old was he?

CHILD: He was 92.

KING: Just died of being 92?

CHILD: I think so, yeah. Well, he'd had several strokes, so he had gone downhill.

KING: Are you retired?

CHILD: No. Don't have to retire in my business. Nor do you in yours.

KING: No, I guess not. As long as you can talk.

CHILD: Exactly.

KING: So, what - but you don't do television on a regular basis.

CHILD: Well, no. Not on a regular one anymore, but I would, maybe.

KING: Are you still writing books?

CHILD: If anyone asks me - I'm still doing the books and ...

KING: You'd come back and do television again.

CHILD: Yes, well, like this.

KING: What do you - where do you think this enthusiasm, this energy comes from?

CHILD: Well, because it's fun. And I like - I like my work. And I like to do something.

KING: And you think enjoying it adds to the energy?

CHILD: Oh, oh very much so. Don't you?

KING: So - yes, that's right. I love coming on.

CHILD: Well, yes.

KING: You love your kitchen.

CHILD: I love it. And I'm not what - I'm in a very nice profession, because everybody you know, who's in it loves to be in it. And it's so nice to be with people who love their work, don't you think?

KING: Do most - when you get to be as good as you, do most all of your meals come out good?


KING: You mean, you have a bad day?

CHILD: Oh, I've had horrible, horrible - just like Tiger Woods the other day. Sometimes you just have a horrible day. Things just don't work well.


CHILD: And now I'll say goodbye.


KING: And, do you know it's coming? Or do you have to taste it?

CHILD: Well, you can usually tell.

KING: Yeah?

CHILD: And then if it doesn't taste - well, it's dismal indeed.

KING: How important is the way food looks?

CHILD: Well, I think - I think you have to have eye appeal. If it looks like a mess, you don't want to eat it, do you?

KING: You know, ...

CHILD: If it's very, very attractive looking, you just want to dig in.

KING: At Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant in Miami Beach ...

CHILD: Oh, I love that.

KING: ... one of the great restaurants in the world, ...

CHILD: Certainly is.

KING: ... they have a guy whose only job is to look, in other words, before the plate goes to the waiter, he looks.

CHILD: Well, that's a good idea.

KING: And if it doesn't look right, he sends it back.

CHILD: Good. And I think, too, it's wonderful they know exactly how to crack that crab so that you can eat it easily, don't they.

KING: Do you judge everything you eat? Does a chef get nervous when Julia Child comes in the restaurant? He must.

CHILD: I hope not. Because I'm always happy to go, and I don't criticize when I'm there.

KING: No, I mean, but he must peek out and see how you ...

CHILD: I don't know. I mean, I think most, they love people to come in who enjoy their food. And I think they like people to come in.

KING: Would you send things back?

CHILD: No, not now. I did at the very beginning, when I didn't know much. But I ...

KING: What's the rule, then?

CHILD: ... if it were really bad, I would.

KING: Yeah, you don't - you're not going to eat something you don't like, do you?

CHILD: No, but I show my pleasure by how much I eat, I think.

KING: Are you a big eater?

CHILD: I used to be more so. I've had a difficult year this year with a bad back. And I didn't have much appetite. But it's come back now.

KING: Are you in, other than that, in good health?

CHILD: Very good health. I finally have had a - got my back fixed, and so I'm OK. I just have to get my legs going again better.

KING: Do you - would you rather cook than be cooked for?

CHILD: I like either one. I love cooking, because it's fun. But I love to eat well.

KING: Do you like McDonald's?

CHILD: Yes, but there's another one called the In-and-Out Burger that I like, too. We have ...

KING: Oh...

CHILD: ... lunch here or there on the way down.

KING: Everybody in L.A. loves the In-and-Out Burger.

CHILD: Yeah.

KING: Is ...

CHILD: Well, it's very good. KING: Is that the best of the fast foods?

CHILD: Well, it's awfully good. But I think the McDonald's could be very good, too, and so can Burger King. But the Burger King's French fries are very good, I think.

KING: When you walk in to Burger King, do they know you?


KING: They don't know you at all.

CHILD: I don't think so.

KING: But the In-and-Out Burger - because I don't eat burgers since I had my heart attack, ...

CHILD: Oh, you don't.

KING: Should I eat a burger once in a while?


KING: My wife loves In-and-Out Burgers.

CHILD: Good.

KING: OK. What ...

CHILD: I've seen those new - that new article saying that the reason Americans are getting so fat is because that they're afraid of fat, and they haven't been eating it, and they're eating all these carbohydrates. And since that time, the Americans have gotten bigger and bigger and bigger.

KING: That's the news right now.

CHILD: Nowadays - they should go back on a regular diet.

KING: That's the new thing now. Eat bacon.

CHILD Well, not ...

KING: Don't eat rice.

CHILD: ... not eat too much of anything. As we say in the American Institute of Wine and Food, small helpings, no seconds. A little bit of everything. No snacking. And have a good time.

If that makes good sense.

KING: So when you say a little bit of everything, that means a little bit of the strawberry shortcake, ...

CHILD: Certainly.

KING: ... or the Napoleon, or the lemon meringue.

CHILD: A nice - and a nice little hamburger.

KING: Yeah, OK. Sold.

Do you have a favorite dish?

CHILD: Besides hamburger and baked potatoes? I don't know, I'll most anything that's well ...

KING: I mean a favorite dish.

CHILD: Well, I love baked potatoes with lots of butter. Very often a baked potato is one of the safest things to eat. Say, in a hospital where the food is pretty bad, they can usually do a baked potato perfectly well.

KING: All right. Stay with the baked potato. We'll be back - it's carbohydrates, but it's all right. A little bit of everything.

Julia Childs. She's 90. Don't go away.


PEPIN: We leave in a little more lettuce. And again, ...

CHILD: And think a crout (ph) of tomato in one ...

PEPIN: ... I press it ...

CHILD: ... let's put a tomato in there ...

PEPIN: ... this is a - this is a tough ...

CHILD: Look at that. Isn't that nice?

PEPIN: And now, the best part of it ...

CHILD: Is the eating.

PEPIN: ... eating, yes.


PEPIN: Very good, (INAUDIBLE)?

CHILD: That's good.

PEPIN: That's great.




JACQUES PEPIN, CHEF: OK, that's that.

CHILD: That's it, oh, look at that.

PEPIN: Look at that egg, it's incredible. Look at the size of that, huge.

CHILD: That's incredible.

PEPIN: My, God.

CHILD: Now we're going to scramble it.

PEPIN: I mean (INAUDIBLE) where I can to do this way less (INAUDIBLE).

CHILD: We don't care about nutrients, we care about taste.

You don't need recipes. You have these principles of the cooking. And if anyone is so stupid, they can't do something like this without a recipe, they're never going to be able to cook at all.


KING: You wrote in your book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere with the right instruction. What is the French manner?

CHILD: Carefully cooked food by people who know what they're doing, I think is what French food is. I think you hear a lot of people say, oh, all those rich sauces and things. The thing is that it's beautifully cooked food by people who love what they're doing and know what they're doing, I think.

KING: So when people say, oh, it's all about sauces, that's not true?

CHILD: That's not true, it's all about how you do it and how you appreciate it.

KING: Is wine essential to a good dinner?

CHILD: It certainly helps a great deal. I think it makes it - just gives it that civilizing touch, that bit of sophistication that is nice.

KING: Are you a wine connoisseur?

CHILD: I know a lot more about wine than I did at the beginning. Unfortunately I can't drink a great deal of it any more.

KING: But I've been told by experts that the California wines are right up there with the best in the world, with the best of France.

CHILD: Our Santa Barbara wines that we have that were sniffed at for a long time, but we make some really great pinot noirs in the world right there in Santa Barbara.

KING: And it enhances the taste of the food?

CHILD: Oh, it certainly - well, it accompanies it, I think it enhances it, enhances the experience, don't you think? Do you drink wine, Larry?

KING: A little bit. Any food you hate?

CHILD: Well, badly cooked food...

KING: I know that. But any - for example, George Bush and yours truly, I don't want to couple it together, hate broccoli, hate it, wouldn't go near it, wouldn't touch it, what do you hate?

CHILD: I don't like cilantro.

KING: What is that?

CHILD: It's an herb that it has a kind of a taste that I don't like.

KING: Is there an everyday food you hate, like broccoli?

CHILD: No, I don't think so. I mean, if it's properly cooked and properly served, I can't think of anything I hate.

KING: So you'll eat...

CHILD: Except cilantro and arugula I don't like at all.

KING: Arugula?

CHILD: They're both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me.

KING: So you would never order it.

CHILD: Never, I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.

KING: Don't get that angry. You went to the famed school Cordon Bleu.

CHILD: I did.

KING: What was that like?

CHILD: This was way back in the early '40s - no, in the early '50s. And it was - we had wonderful old chefs there, the one that I - my old chef, Max Bounier (ph). He was a real master chef. He was about 75 at that point and he enjoyed teaching. He was really too old to be in a restaurant. And we had a wonderful pastry chef. And then we had another one, a Pierre Morgeaula (ph), who was a great - he was a great demonstrator of how to do things. We just had a wonderful group of teachers there and I loved it. KING: You were the only woman?

CHILD: No, they had sort of the regular house wives group, which I didn't want to be with because they weren't very serious, but luckily I was able to go down into the cellar where they have the GIs, they had about eight GIs from World War II who were given two years of free cooking.

KING: They wanted to be chefs?

CHILD: They wanted to be chefs and they didn't mind if I joined them because I wanted a big course.

KING: Is British cooking bad?

CHILD: It's gotten much better, I think.

KING: Was it bad?

CHILD: I thought so. But then they think our cooking is bad. I don't know.

KING: Now can we describe, what is American cooking? Because is Chicago, is it New Orleans?

CHILD: I don't think we can say what it is, because it's so much now, and we're a nation of foreigners, aren't we.

KING: That we are, fellow immigrants.

CHILD: Which is I think - that's our richness in our life, that we have got so many elements that play into us.

KING: And do you like the areas that have their - you know, there's this - they call it California style food and there is the certainly the food of the South...

CHILD: The Tex-Mex and so forth.

KING: Tex-Mex, you like grits?


KING: You like New Orleans kind of cooking? you like Paul Prudhomme?

CHILD: That's fun. I don't know his cooking very well.

KING: Do you like Emeril?

CHILD: I love Emeril, he's a good friend. He's a very nice man.

KING: What's special about him?

CHILD: Well, he's very enthusiasm with what's he's done, and I think thanks to him we have a Food Network. Because I think a lot of people look at the network for entertainment and he's certainly entertaining. And the Food Network has had to have a big enough audience or it wouldn't be.

KING: Are you on it a lot?

CHILD: Every now and then.

KING: Is Emeril a good cook?

CHILD: He is, well, he really knows what he's doing and he has two excellent restaurants in New Orleans.

KING: He does, I've been there.

CHILD: And he's a wonder fellow, very, very generous and he really knows what he's doing.

KING: How about our friend Wolfgang Puck?

CHILD: Oh, he's fun, yes.

KING: Of Spago fame.


KING: Not bad food.

CHILD: Not bad at all. It's a wonderful restaurant.

KING: I saw you eating there.

CHILD: Yes you did.

KING: Lunch.

CHILD: You were with...

KING: Nancy Reagan.

CHILD: Nancy Reagan, I remember that. That's why I thought, heavens, this is the right place to be.

KING: Wolfgang now he has got chains of restaurants.

CHILD: I know. He's a wonderful chef and a very good...

KING: Did anyone ever -- he's a good teacher, too. Did anyone ever want to open a chain of restaurants using your name?

CHILD: No, I don't do anything commercial whatsoever.

KING: At all?

CHILD: At all.

KING: Never endorse a product? CHILD: Nope, never.

KING: We'll be back with more of Julia Child. She's 90, keeps on keeping on. Don't go away.


EMERIL LAGASSE, CHEF: Well, Julia, my friend, we're in for a treat.

CHILD: Oh, boy, look at that.

LAGASSE: You know, there's an expression about sucking the head and peeling the tail. So we kind of twist off the body and then we kind of suck the head.

CHILD: There's all that nice tamale in it.

LAGASSE: Delicious. And then you take the - we're going to pinch the tail. You just kind of...

CHILD: I see, the pinching releases the tail. Delicious.

LAGASSE: Isn't that good?




CHILDS: As everyone knows, the heart of a good souffle is --

JACQUES PEPIN, CHEF: Egg white. Beaten egg white, and I'm going to do mine in copper (ph). I believe faster than the machine.

CHILDS: Well, we're going to see if you're faster than the machine, OK?

One, two, three -- go!


KING: There is someone over the years that Julia Child has been widely associated with was Jacques Pepin.


KING: How did that come about?

CHILDS: Jim Beard, was he ever on with you?

KING: Yes, I knew Jim well. What a man!

CHILDS: I met Jacques through Jim way back in the early '60s.

KING: When did Jim day?

CHILDS: He died about '81, '82.

KING: Yes, he died. He came on my radio show a lot, and I had him on television in Miami. He was a robust, funny guy.

CHILDS: Oh, he was wonderful. He was a very generous, wonderful fellow.

KING: They have wards in his honor.

CHILDS: Yes, they do.

KING: So you met Pepin through him?

CHILDS: I met through him, and then Jacques teaches at the French Culinary Institute in New York and also at Boston University, and we did several fund raisers together, and that's how we happened to do our show together. We had a good time.

KING: Was that a kind of chemistry that just worked between the two of you?

CHILDS: Yes, well, we're very fond of each other, and he's fun to be with, anyway.

KING: How good a chef is he?

CHILDS: Well, he's remarkable. Not only is beautiful to watch. His food is delicious to eat. He's just a remarkable man, I think.

KING: Are there some chefs that you can tell by looking, this is going to be good, or do you have to taste it?

CHILDS: I think you have to taste it. You probably can get some idea by the ingredients they use and so forth.

KING: Is it built in, though, like some say you're built in -- if you know it's Emeril, and that he's cooked it, he's halfway home. You're going to like it. Or is that not true?

CHILDS: Probably. Or if I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Jacques has done it, I know I'm going to like it, because I've had enough of his food to know it's delicious.

KING: Right. So it would take a major disappointment to turn -- to make you not like it, right?

CHILDS: Yes, if something was wrong.

KING: Can you be a gourmet health person and eat healthy foods?

CHILDS: Well, I think if you're following what I said about the small helpings and so forth, that's healthy.

KING: So, in other words, you can eat anything if you watch how you intake the calories.

CHILDS: Exactly. I think it's a shame not to eat things. If you just have a spoonful, you know what it's supposed to taste like, makes a lot of difference.

KING: So there's nothing wrong if I take a spoonful of something?


KING: Even though I'm supposed to eat low fat?


KING: If something happens to me, Julia.

CHILDS: Are you sure that low fat is a good idea? I know we've had these arguments.

KING: I'm not sure anymore. Everything confuses me.

CHILDS: I know. Now they've said that...

KING: If you don't watch what you eat, you're not going to live to a ripe old age, Julia. You got to watch this.

CHILDS: Well, look at me. I'm at a pretty ripe old age.

KING: I know. See, I'm kidding, Julia. I'm doing a reverse. The low fat mania you're against, then?

CHILDS: I'm against anything that deprives people of the pleasures of the table. Unless they're really sick and they get -- if they have an allergy to something.

KING: What do you make of organic foods?

CHILDS: Well, I'm more interested in having really fresh, really fresh good food. I think organic is wonderful if everybody can do it. But...

KING: Impossible, though. All foods can't be organic.

CHILDS: No, I wouldn't think so. As long as it's fresh.

KING: You're not big on macrobiotic feeding...

CHILDS: No, I'm not.

KING: How about vegetarians?

CHILDS: Well, I think you have to really know what you're doing if you're a vegetarian.

KING: Meaning? CHILDS: That you might not be getting the right proteins and right quality of food. And I know, I hear that it's very -- you have to watch it very carefully for raising children on that kind of a diet.

KING: Because it...

CHILDS: Because you're not getting the proteins that you should.

KING: Do you take like pills? Do you take vitamins?

CHILDS: Unfortunately, at my age you end up taking quite a few pills.

KING: Do you take food additives, too?

CHILDS: What are they?

KING: You know, like B plus, C.

CHILDS: Oh, vitamins? Oh, I take vitamin E for my eyesight and, you know, various things like that.

KING: But not as a food additive?


KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) your source of energy and vitamins from food?

CHILDS: Or to save your eyes or something like that. Or keep your bones healthy.

KING: How about specialty items? Should we buy specialty salts, oils and vinegars?

CHILDS: I don't go in for the specialty salt, do you?

KING: I don't even know what it is.

CHILDS: To me, salt is salt.

KING: To me, I never figured out...

CHILDS: If you were selling it, you would probably make more money by calling it by some fancy name.

KING: That's what I think. Do you go to gourmet grocery stores?

CHILDS: No, not particularly. I just go to places where it has really good fresh, fine ingredients.

KING: Go into Safeway?

CHILDS: Oh, yes.

KING: Giant Foods?

CHILDS: Or Giant. We have a new Ralph's up in Santa Barbara. We have Vaughn's. The Star Market in Boston. They're all...

KING: So you don't have to go to Good Earth, Heavenly Earth?

CHILDS: You just have to know how to buy things and know how to pick them out.

KING: What do you think of microwave?

CHILDS: Oh, I think it's wonderful. I don't think that it's -- you can't good a great deal in it, but it's also useful for defrosting and melting chocolate and melting butter and heating up a cup of coffee.

KING: Not good to cook a meal, though?

CHILDS: Well, it depends. You can cook an artichoke in it, and if I'm alone, I have bake a potato and I want to do it fast, the microwave is wonderful.

KING: Is there a kitchen gadget you love?

CHILDS: Oh, I love my food processor and I love my knives. I like most of everything I have.

KING: You've been injured in the kitchen?

CHILDS: Continually cutting my thumbs and things like that. Nothing serious, luckily.

KING: Do you use that thing, that mixer a lot? The food processor?

CHILDS: Oh, a great deal. It's wonderful, say, for grating cheese and for chopping mushrooms and for making pie crust dough and even if you can use it for kneading bread. The other day I ran into a book, and you made the dough in the food processor and you made it rise in the microwave twice, and it worked very much.

I was -- I had bread from box to stove to eating in 90 minutes.

KING: You cook for yourself?

CHILDS: I do very often.

KING: Our guest is Julia Child. She is 90. The Smithsonian will honor her, restaurants will salute her all around the country. We're doing it tonight. We'll be back with our remaining portion after this -- portion, see. I said portion.


CHILD: I have washed this chicken with hot water. And if we take... PEPIN: I don't wash my chicken.

CHILDS: And he doesn't wash his. I think in France they're not as worried about things as we are, are they?

PEPIN: Well, I live in Connecticut, pretty far from France.

CHILDS: That's right.

PEPIN: But what happened is that I feel it's going to go in 425- degree oven for like an hour or so, and at that point if the bacteria still living, they deserve to live, you know?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't do nothing without a sharp knife. Now you place the chicken on its stomach and cut along the backbone to the pope's nose like so.

Oh, now I've done it, I've cut the dickens out of my finger. Well, I'm glad in a way this happened. Time after time in the kitchen, you never really discuss what to do...


KING: What did you think of that, Julia Child?

CHILD: Terribly funny.

KING: Did you enjoy...

CHILD: We just happened to turn it on one night and there it was. We have a tape of it. I think it's wonderfully funny.

KING: He got the voice down.

CHILD: Save the liver. That was so funny.

KING: It's a great compliment, of course.

CHILD: I think it was.

KING: To be satirized on a program of that note.

CHILD: He was wonderfully funny doing that, too.

KING: Do you think much, when you're 90, about dying?

CHILD: Maybe I never will, I don't know.

KING: I mean, do you think about it?

CHILD: No. Do you?

KING: Yes.

CHILD: Do you?

KING: Yes, I don't like it. I don't like it because, you know, I'm kind of agnostic, I'm not sure there's anything after this, and...

CHILD: Well, the main thing, if -- you look healthy now, Larry.

KING: I take care of myself.

CHILD: You're able to eat well, reasonably.

KING: I don't want to leave. I'm too curious.

CHILD: I think we both -- the main thing is to stay healthy so we do want we want.

KING: Go to sleep one night and just not get up. Are you very religious?

CHILD: Not at all. I have my own ideas about things, but I don't belong to any religious...

KING: And do you have an idea that something's coming after this?

CHILD: I don't know. I have that there's sort of a great, sort of a great power thing that you go back into, and then there are little bits of it that come out, and there are people. That doesn't explain it very well.

KING: You mean there's a little bit -- there's going to be a little bit of you.

CHILD: There's a power force, and your spirit goes back into that. It's an interesting point about cloning. If you clone someone, does that spirit come into them, or what happens? That's -- we'll never know until we finally do it, will we?

KING: No. Would you be frozen?

CHILD: I wouldn't care at that point, would you?

KING: Do you study -- when you study cooking, do they study the history of cooking?

CHILD: Well, you get it a lot.

KING: How did they cook in -- how did Caesar cook? We named a salad after him.

CHILD: We did do enough of that, but I think now if you're going to the CIA or if you're going to Boston University, you get the background of cooking and the history of food. KING: What's, for you, the hardest thing in terms of soups, salads, entrees, desserts, the most difficult aspect of cooking for you? Since you can't master it all, because you're a cook and not a chef.

CHILD: Well, I think the great problem is if you're having -- doing a dinner is to get everything done at the proper time, so that nobody has to wait for a lot of things.

KING: Yes, how do you do that?

CHILD: You have to think it out.

KING: How does -- when I see the steak come out with the sweet potato, but they're different times to cook, right? So you got to plan everything based on the...

CHILD: And then you have to know what you can do ahead and what you can hold and so forth. I think that's the most difficult part about cooking is getting the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) together and having it come out at the right time.

KING: Is the cook nervous before the diner takes the first bite?

CHILD: Depending on who is the diner, I guess.

KING: Are you nervous if someone famous is dining with food you've cooked?

CHILD: If I'm perfectly at ease with what I've done, I'm delighted, and if I'm not very much at ease, then I'm nervous a bit.

KING: So depends on what you've cooked?

CHILD: Yes, it depends on how well I have done my job.

KING: Now, people think that -- you eat, like you said, you had an you had an in-and-out burger today -- you eat a grilled cheese sandwich?

CHILD: Oh, yes. I'll eat most anything that's well cooked.

KING: What is a Julia Child breakfast like?

CHILD: Well, I'm living in a retirement community now and we have -- in Santa Barbara -- and the only meal I really eat all of the time there is breakfast, and they have a wonderful breakfast. They have loads of bacon. They got all kinds of fruit...

KING: Crispy fried grease...

CHILD: And all kinds of cereals, and any egg that you can think of, waffles and pancakes.

KING: You eat communally?

CHILD: It's sort of a big -- it's like a big restaurant. And I have a group that I always eat breakfast with.

KING: You live by yourself?

CHILD: I have a condo all my own.

KING: But you take care of yourself?

CHILD: Oh, yes.

KING: And then you go every morning to this...

CHILD: Every morning I go and have my octogenarian breakfast.

KING: You're not an octogenarian anymore. You are a...

CHILD: Well, I still -- no, I'm not. A former one.

KING: Ninety is now ninety-genarian. You're a nitrogarian.

CHILD: A nitrogarian.

KING: This would be of a personal nature. Do you like Jewish cooking?

CHILD: I don't know a great deal about it.

KING: You missed some great food. Never had potato kugel, did you?

CHILD: No, I never did. Well, I just went to Santa Barbara. I went to a very interesting dinner, which was Jewish cooking in Egypt. So it was Egyptian-Jewish cooking and it was very good.

KING: The similarity, the -- the falafel, that's Arabic. And we have Jewish knishes. And we have -- you ever thing kasha? You like kasha?


KING: That's our food, we invented that.

CHILD: Good.

KING: Matzoh, you like that?

CHILD: Yes, do I.

KING: Ah! Bagels?

CHILD: Bagels and lox, yes. Delicious.

KING: Now you're getting to me, Julia. Happy birthday, darling.

CHILD: Thank you, my dear.

KING: Julia Child. Her most recent book is "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom." Wisdom applies to everything she does. She's 90, and we along with the rest of the loving world, salute her. Julia Child, our special guest on this very special night. Thanks for joining us.

"NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next. Good night.




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