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Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian


Story 3 [of 18] Ė Paul Child, the Man Who Is Always There


" Paul Child, the man who is always there: porter, dishwasher, official photographer, mushroom dicer and onion chopper, editor, fish illustrator, manager, taster, idea man, resident poet, and husband."


Paul Child was born in 1902. By the time he met Julia McWilliams in 1944, when they were both serving in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War, he was an accomplished poet, and photographer. He also had a deep appreciation for good food, wine, and lively conversationóthe pleasures of the table.


Paul and Julia married in 1946 and settled in Washington, D.C. She was not a good cook, and often joked that Paul had married her in spite of her cooking. When Paul was appointed Exhibits Officer for the U.S. Information Service in Paris, the couple moved to France in 1948. After a memorable meal in Rouen, and with Paulís enthusiastic support, Julia decided to learn the techniques of classic French cuisine at Parisís premier cooking school, the Cordon Bleu.


In 1953 Paulís career took the two to Marseilles, where he was the Cultural Affairs Officer for the southern coast of France. His next post for the USIA was in Bonn, Germany, where the Childs lived between 1954 and 1956. They returned to Washington, D.C., where Paul continued his USIA work while Julia concentrated on cooking, testing recipes, and refining the manuscript that eventually became Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Paulís final overseas post was in Oslo, Norway, where he was a Cultural Attaché in 1959 and 1960. He retired from government service in 1960 and the couple settled in Cambridge, Mass., in 1961.


Julia always acknowledged Paulís role in inspiring her interest in food and wine and in supporting her career. After his retirement he continued his artistic pursuits - painting, writing poetry, taking photographs, and playing music. He also assisted Julia with testing recipes, produced illustrations and proofread her cookbooks, attended to set design, and even washed dishes after the taping sessions for her television shows. Paul Child died in 1994.


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