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Wednesday, August 13, 2008 

Julia Child...Chef, local personality, cookbook author....


Famed chef Julia Child shared a secret with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg at a time when the Nazis threatened the world.

They served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The secret comes out Thursday, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States. The National Archives, which this week released a list of the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives. -

But we've known for quite some time that Julia was cooking up some intriguing recipes of intrigue.......

Decades before becoming a famous chef, she worked for the Office of Strategic Services. (The OSS was the predecessor to the CIA.) She was assigned to solve a problem for U.S. naval forces during World War II: Sharks would bump into explosives that were placed underwater, setting them off and warning the German U-boats they were intended to sink. "So... Julia Child and a few of her male compatriots got together and literally cooked up a shark repellent," that was used to coat the explosives, McCarthy says. - NPR (2002)

And, tomorrow would have been Julia's 96th Birthday. Jessica's Biscuit (aka ecookbooks.com) is celebrating...

It would be impossible to present all of Julia Child's contributions to cooking in America in this small space. She transformed our appreciation for French cooking, pioneered cooking on television, and made all of us better cooks and/or better eaters. To celebrate some of the best of Julia, the hardcover edition of the memoir she wrote with her grandnephew, My Life in France, is $7.99 through August 31st. Thank you, Julia!

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My Julia Child story: I was covering a trial at the courthouse and on the last day of it, my editor met me and our photographer for lunch in thanks for the work. We ended up at Cafe Buenos Aires and were thoroughly enjoying the food when my editor leaned in and whispered, "Look classy. It's Julia Child." Sure enough, it was she, all tall and hunched over and every bit as remarkable as I had hoped she'd be. It was hard not to notice her. She was having a rather animated conversation with the man she was eating with. The editor, photographer and I --- all college students at the time --- did our best to eat daintily so as not to offend cooking royalty.

Knowing what I know about her now, I feel like she probably wouldn't have minded too much how we ate, as long as we enjoyed the food.

She died not too long after, and I've always been very happy that I got to see her, in her element no less, while she was alive.

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