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In 1948, Julia Child ate her first meal in Paris.

It was a spread of oysters and sole meunière, paired with fine wine; this was a moment in history because it changed the course of Child’s life, television and American cooking–a moment she once described as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.”

It’s safe to say that most Americans immersed in pop culture in some form another know of Julia, whether it’s a direct result of her zany television antics and cheerful demeanor or the 2009 comedy Julie and Julia. Even the most casual culinarian probably knows of Julia Child’s famous text Mastering the Art of French Cooking and might even remember a clip or two of the chipper Child gleefully wielding large knives, playing with food, etc., all delivered with the soft warmth of her voice.

It is for all these reasons and more that Julia Child held a place in thousands of hearts–and not just in America–and the reasons we celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday (August 15), with gusto, cooking courses, restaurant specials and film screenings. Her own Julia Child Restaurant Week (yes, it’s official) ranges from August 7th to 15th and DC has a variety of options for maximum Childish enjoyment. Ready? Bon appetit.

“You have to eat to cook. You can’t be a good cook and be a noneater. I think eating is the secret to good cooking.”

-Julia Child

Food Celebration

  • Marcel’s
    2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

    Head to Marcel’s for a delectable celebration special of Child-inspired French cuisine with whole roasted tarragon chicken for two, served with asparagus, braised carrots, mushrooms in Madeira sauce and potatoes Daphinoise.
    Cost: $85

  • Café DuPont
    1500 New Hampshire Avenue NW

    Café DuPont is celebrating the chef’s birthday with a delicious Julia Child-inspired prix fixe dinner menu and wine pairing. Guests can enjoy Parfait de foie de Poulet to start, paired with a 2010 Domaine Vocoret Chablis; an entrée of Canard à l’Orange, an Orange Glazed Roasted Duck Breast with Chick Peas and Black Mission Figs, paired with a 2009 Louis Max Hautes Côtes du Nuits Pinot Noir; and finish off with a Tarte Tatin de Pêche with Amaretto Ice Cream  – a nod to Julia’s famous Apple Tarte Tatin.
    Prix fixe price: $50

  • RIS
    2275 L Street NW

    RIS is celebrating all things Julia Child with carefully curated specials by their head chef/owner Ris Lacoste–fom whom Child served as both a friend and a mentor. Guests can enjoy Vichyssoise with crème fraîche and chives, or Moules Marinière – butter, herbs and vermouth, served with grilled bread, Sole Meunière with lemon-caper brown butter, parsleyed potatoes and haricots verts. Or, enjoy a Roasted Chicken Cobb Salad – avocado, bacon, blue cheese, tomato and egg with roast chicken vinaigrette. Chef Ris remembers Child’s fondness for meatlof with a serving of both her recipe and his own, side by side.

    Finish with one of Julia’s favorite indulgences, The Salty Turtle Sundae (vanilla ice cream, salted pecans, chocolate and caramel sauces) as well as her Almond Vacherin with peaches and cream.

    At the bar, check out the ‘reverse martini,’ one of Child’s favorites–Noilly Prat dry vermouth served on the rocks with a twist and a ‘whisper’ of gin.
    Cost: varies

  • Central
    1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

    Believe it or not, Chef Michel Richard was also a good friend of Julia’s, even appearing on her show Cooking with Julia. To honor his friend, Chef Richard is offering a special Chicken “Julia” with Ratatouille for $24, paired with an Echezeaux (for an additional charge).
    Cost per plate: $24

Events / Activity Inspiration

  • Book Signing / Q&A, The National Museum of American History – Wednesday, 8/15/12. 1:00pm – 2:30pm
    Author Alex Prud’homme will be signing copies of his book My Life in France, which he co-wrote with Julia Child herself during the last eight months of her life. The autobiography ranges everywhere from finding her love and passion for French cooking to black and white family snapshots.
  • Book Signing / Q&A, Café DuPont – Wednesday, 8/8/12. 6:00pm – 8:00pm
    1500 New Hampshire Avenue NW
    Partnering with Child’s own book publisher, Alfred A. Knopf,  author Bob Spitz will be signing copies of Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, his Julia Child biography. Spitz is a New York Times best-selling author and was, in fact, the only writer given permission to pen Child’s biography–add this to your calendar and gain insight; Spitz will be answering all your questions about Julia tonight!
  • Book Signing / Q&A, The National Museum of American History – Wednesday, 8/15/12. 2:30pm – 4:30pm
    If you can’t catch Spitz’s signing at  Café DuPont, he’ll be at the Warner Bros. Theatre lobby on the 15th at the National Museum of American History as well.

  • Get a sneak peek of Julia Child’s Kitchen – National Museum of American History
    From August 15 – September 3 (First Floor, East Wing) with new and better views, visitors can check out Child’s Cambridge, Mass., kitchen–back on display for a limited time only. The kitchen contains the hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings arranged exactly as they were when Child donated the kitchen to the museum in 2001.
  • Be Your Own Julia Child
    Take a cooking class of your own! Sur la Table is celebrating her life with a fun, hands-on cooking class, whose instructor will walk you through the steps of some of Julia’s most popular recipes, including timeless classics from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Try your hand at Cheese Soufflé, Scallops gratineed with wine, garlic and herbs, Asparagus with hollandaise, and Chocolate Mousse.
    Arlington classes available August 12, 15 and 24. To make reservations, call 1-800-243-0852

  • Book Signing / Q&A, The National Museum of American History – Wednesday, 8/15/12. 11:00am – 1:00pm
    Author Jessie Hartland will be signing copies of her book Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child, a lively and energetic picture-book biography spanning the various events of Child’s life.
  • Screenings of The French Chef, The National Museum of American History – Wednesday, 8/15/12. 11:00am – 4:00pm
    Watch Child in action through episodes of WGBH’s The French Chef, screening in the Warner Bros. Theater.
  • Learn to Spy Like Julia
    And lastly, pay your respects to Julia’s spy roots with a trip to the International Spy Museum and learn about her years in Paris as an OSS agent in Paris.

To fill you with a bit more inspiration, enjoy this Julia Child supercut set to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”