Provence, 1970

M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and

The Reinvention of American Taste

Provence, 1970

Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.

Images Related to the Book

Julia Child at La Pitchoune Julia Child on the terrace at La Pitchoune, her vacation house in Provence, in the early 1970s. At home in Cambridge, MA, she and her husband Paul were “invaded by telephone, telegraph, and letter, by peeping people, news editors, food writers, television tipsters, photographers, High School Year Book interviewers, cooking utensil salesmen, almond growers, fish experts, oven salesmen, restaurateurs, orchardists.” At La Pitchoune, on the other hand, they could forget their intense American life and be quiet and anonymous.

Bert Greene, James Beard, and Julia Child cooking together at M.F.K. Fisher’s Last House, in Sonoma County, in the late 1970s. Child, Beard, and Fisher remained lifelong friends, seminal figures in modern American cooking.

These photographs courtesy of The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

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