Cookery Writers as National Treasures

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Julia Childs

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How do cookbook writers become national treasures?

Since Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton, some cookery book writers have taken on iconic status and continue to be celebrated long after their deaths. How does this happen?

In this illustrated talk, Janet Floyd looks at Julia Child and others’ position as ‘national treasures’ to consider how and why certain figures become so significant.

Identifying cookery book writers who have achieved an enhanced significance as national treasures is not difficult. We often know them by their first names – ‘Jamie’ or ‘Nigella’ – or we associate them with a certain approach – as in ‘doing a Delia’ – or with a historical moment – as with Marguerite Patten. Some figures, Elizabeth David for example, have become a touchstone in histories of cookery and lifestyle. But what makes these people stand out? How are such reputations constructed? 

This talk looks at these questions in relation to the American cookery book writer and broadcaster Julia Child; a well-established national treasure in the US. In many ways Child’s approach to the task of ‘mastering the art of French cooking’ was similar to that of her contemporaries. The whole project of producing French cuisine in the US was one with a long history. What, then, made ‘Julia’ so famous that, 15 years after her death (in her 90s), she is still commemorated?  And how can her status help us reflect on cookery writers of our own?

Janet Floyd is Professor of American Literature and Culture at King’s College London. She has a particular interest in how routines of domestic life, and especially domestic work, appear in written and visual forms. She has co-edited a collection of essays on cookery books with Laurel Forster, The Recipe Reader, as well as publishing articles on different forms of food writing. 

Food Season supported by KitchenAid

KitchenAid

Image: Julia Child in her kitchen as photographed © Lynn Gilbert, 1978, Cambridge, Mass

Details

Name: Cookery Writers as National Treasures
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Member: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
boxoffice@bl.uk