Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 12, 2023 by Crystal Uys
A life without a cat is a life without sunshine. – Julia Child
I didn’t know Julia Child was a cat lover until I received Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat from the publisher. I was utterly charmed by this beautifully illustrated book aimed at children ages 3 and up.
Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson brings this little known aspect of Julia Child’s life to light in an engaging and entertaining way. If you weren’t already a fan of Julia Child, you will be after reading this book.
From the book’s prologue: “A reporter once asked Julia Child what she might whip up for her creator when she got to heaven. Julia wasn’t a religious person – she believed heaven was right here on earth, in her own cozy kitchen, hovering over a skillet sizzling with shallots and butter, then sitting down to share a meal with people she loved, a cat wrapped around her ankles, meowing for treats.”
I was, of course, particularly delighted that Julia Child’s introduction to cats began with a tortoiseshell cat named Minette (featured in the childrens’ book mentioned above). Shortly after Julia and her husband Paul arrived in Paris in 1948, Minette showed up on their doorstep. She quickly captured Julia’s heart, and so began a lifelong love affair with cats that was only equaled by her love of food and for her husband.
The book follows Julia’s rise to culinary fame from the early days in France to her return to the United States and the start of her famous cooking show to her final years in California. The book is every bit as joyful and exuberant as Julia Child appeared to be on her famous show, The French Chef,. Julia’s love for her “poussiequettes,” as she called her cats in one of her many “Julia-isms,” comes through on every page.
August 15th would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. She died in her sleep at age 92, and she was not alone. She had refused further treatment for an infection following complications from knee surgery. Julia just wanted to be home. The night before she died, she asked her assistant to make a batch of her famous French onion soup. As Julia savored her dinner, “a beloved dinner companion that night was a wild little black-and-white kitten named Minou, who shared Julia’s home in a retirement community near Santa Barbara. Full of feline joie de vivre, Minou was the soul mate who brightened Julia’s days. When she was ready for bed, the kitten curled up in his customary spot on the right side of the pillow. Minou kept watch through the night as Julia’s charmed life ebbed away, where she said it all truly began, in the company of cats.”
Interspersed with lots of photos of Julia and her cats, this book is equal parts charming, delightful, and heart warming. I read the book straight through in one sitting, and I felt like I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. This book is a treasure that belongs in every cat lover’s library. It also makes a great gift for the cat lovers, food lovers, and Francophiles in your life.
Patricia Barey and Therese Burson own a media production company and have written, produced, and directed award-winning programs on a range of subjects. Barey’s program on Chicago as a food mecca won an Emmy. Burson, who holds a PhD in English, has taught creative writing to undergraduates and adults.
Photo of Minette by Paul Child, used with the publisher’s permission.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.