Life Lessons from Julia Child

Julia Child

In celebration of France’s Bastille Day on Sunday, I thought It’d be fun to have a French themed week on Traveling Chic – starting with America’s favorite French Chef: Julia Child!

One of my all-time favorite books is ‘My Life in France’ a memoir about Julia Child’s time in Paris, Marseilles, and Provence. I have dog-eared so pages in this book because her pearls of wisdom are so raw, funny, and entertaining!

Even if you’re not that into cooking, or France for that matter, it’s a lovely account of being in your 30s and 40s, marriage, expat life, and just being passionate about something. Julia Child is also a good reminder that you are never too old to learn something new and it’s never too late to make your dreams happen! Julia was 36 when she took French lessons, 37 when she entered culinary school and it wasn’t until her 50s when her cookbook was published and she first appeared on TV! So whether you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, take a dance class, or master the art of french cooking – now’s the time to seize the day!

Here are some of the best lines from the book, I hope you’ll find them as fun and inspiring as I have!


“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.”

“One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

“In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

“There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”

Julia Child


“With enough butter, anything is good.”

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”

“Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”


“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”

“I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecation such as “Oh, I don’t know how to cook…,” or “Poor little me…,” or “This may taste awful…,” it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, “Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!”

“Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”

Julia Child


“…The more I learned the more I realized how very much one has to know before one is in-the-know at all.”

“I discovered that when one follows the artist’s eye one sees unexpected treasures in so many seemingly ordinary scenes.”

“The more you know, the more you can create.”

“…operational proof…it’s all theory until you see for yourself whether or not something works.”

“…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

Julia Child


“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food…”

“As you get older, you shouldn’t waste time drinking bad wine.”

“An old wine is like an old lady, and traveling can disturb her.”

“In France, Paul explained, good cooking was regarded as a combination of national sport and high art, and wine was always served with lunch and dinner. “The trick is moderation,” he said.”

“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simple or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”

Julia Child


“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

“Well, all I know is this—nothing you ever learn is really wasted, and will sometime be used.”

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”

“If variety is the spice of life, then my life must be one of the spiciest you ever heard of. A curry of a life.” – Paul Child on life with Julia Child

“Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper.”

“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”

“You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.”

“Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!”

“Life itself is the proper binge.”

Julia Child

If you’re looking for more French inspiration, check out my Paris Bucket List post here and Creme Brûlée post here.

Bon Appétit!


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