I’m not a huge fan of Julia’s cookbooks. They’re a little too much for me mostly. However, I love what she has done for the home cook, beautifully summarized by Julia Moskin, who was named after Julia Child:

…I simply watched my parents make dinner (sometimes beef bourguignon, more often burgers) and absorbed their notion that food was interesting and entertaining, not just fuel.

This didn’t happen in many New York families in the 1970s. Parents who did cook served meals of “wheatloaf” and carob cake; those who didn’t were busy raising their consciousnesses while the children ordered in Chinese food.

Today, the “family dinner” (preferably home cooked, from responsibly sourced ingredients) is widely considered a necessity, and even toddlers have favorite chefs.

It was Child — not single-handedly, but close — who started the public conversation about cooking in America that has shaped our cuisine and culture ever since. Her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was published in 1961, just as trends including feminism, food technology and fast food seemed ready to wipe out home cooking. But with her energy, intelligence and nearly deranged enthusiasm, Child turned that tide.

I don’t have time tonight to make a “Julia meal” in honor of her birthday, but maybe this weekend we can put together a little something to honor her special day. What’s your favorite Julia Child recipe?

Oh and did you see this?! Keep cooking!