Although Julia Child might be more well-known for "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," it was also written by a cooking teacher named Simone Beck. Never heard of her? She had a fascinating life, and even wrote other cookbooks on French cuisine you should consider checking out. While Julia Child received most of the credit for her bestsellers, which have been released in the form of audiobooks, collectibles, hardcovers, and book club editions, none these new releases were possible without Simone Beck.
Who Was Simone Beck?
Simone Beck was a French cookbook author as well as a cooking teacher who was born in Tocqueville-en-Caux, near Dieppe in Normandy, France. She was also known as Simone "Simca" Beck.
Beck was interested in cooking from childhood, and after divorcing her first husband, Jacques Jarlaud, she applied for Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris. In 1937 she married Jean Victor Fischbacher, and kept her maiden name as a French chef professionally.
When Did Her Writing Career Start?
After World War II, Beck joined Le Cercle des Gourmettes, an exclusive women's culinary club. She was then inspired by American ingredients to write a cookbook for Americans by Louisette Bertholle and her husband, and the rest is history.
Beck and Bertholle published "What's Cooking in France?" in 1952, then published a booklet, "Le Pruneau Devant le fourneau: Recettes de cuisine", which was in French. Just a few years prior, in 1949, she met Julia Child.
Did Simone Beck and Julia Child Work Together?
Yes! Beck, Child, and Bertholle wrote "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was published in 1961. They were also co-authors on "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II" without Bertholle, which was published in 1970.
Eventually, the three of them formed l'École des trois gourmandes to give lessons in French cooking to American women who lived in Paris and usually served as the family cooks. They did that through the 1970s when Child started showing up on TV more often. Beck kept teaching and published her own cookbook, "Simca's Cuisine" (with Patricia Simon) in 1972.
Did She Write Other Books?
Beck had a few other books under her belt. In 1979, she published "New Menus From Simca's Cuisine" with Michael James, and "Food and Friends: Recipes and Memories From Simca's Cuisine" was her autobiography and last cookbook, written with Suzanne Patterson. It was published in 1991, and sadly, she died that year.
Along with Child, Beck helped increase awareness of French cooking in American kitchens. Without them both, French recipes may not have become as popular as they did, when they did.
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