Tasty life lessons

Tasty life lessons

Author Karen Karbo shares insights about Julia Child Monday at Vroman’s 

By Carl Kozlowski 10/02/2013

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Karen Karbo loves writing about women who make an impact on the world, and in fact she informally terms her books about female icons “The Kick Ass Women’s Series.” She’s already hit the bestseller lists with “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel,” in addition to creating tomes on Katharine Hepburn and Georgia O’Keeffe, but her latest edition focuses on a Pasadena legend: Julia Child.  

Her book “Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life” gives readers a witty and revealing portrait of the world-famous chef, offering a mix of fresh insights and fascinating anecdotes about her illustrious life. And this Monday, she’ll be discussing and signing the book at a most appropriate location, Pasadena’s own Vroman’s Bookstore. 

“Julia grew up in Pasadena, but went to Paris in the late 1940s and learned to take the world by storm,” says Karbo, who is based in Portland, Ore., but lived in Pasadena while attending graduate school at USC. “I love that she was so long-lived and continued to have a vibrant life into her 70s, 80s and 90s, which is common to all my ‘kick ass women.’ In many ways, she was an average woman, didn’t even have a specific gift for cooking, but had a passion, ability to work and was optimistic. I don’t know how I came up with these rules, but looking at her life, these were ones she intuitively obeyed and not only had a successful life but a happy life.”

Indeed, Karbo builds her book around advice that Child lived by throughout her life, including how to obey your whims, make the world your oyster, be amused, live happily married, relish friendships and enjoy a life of full immersion. She reveals that despite Child’s world-class palate and cooking abilities, she would only serve Pepperidge Farm Goldfish as hors d’oeuvres at her parties. She also spotlights Child’s courtship with Los Angeles Times scion Harrison Chandler before her marriage to Paul Child, and that she spelled out her recipes in great detail because she had to follow them herself. 

“Julia was not conventionally beautiful and yet she still made a great life,” says Karbo. “She was 6 foot 3 and was able to not only change 20th-century American culture but was able to become this famous woman despite not traveling with feminine beauty as the coin of the realm. Also my mom and I used to watch her show, ‘The French Chef,’ when I was little and I adored her. But this series isn’t about what the kick ass women did but who they were as people. The focus on her personality had not been explored. It was touching to me that she’s so down to earth when she didn’t have to be.” 

Karen Karbo will discuss and sign “Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life” at 7 p.m. Monday at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 449-5320 or visit vromans.com. 

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