Julia Child is well known as an author, a television personality, and a master of French cuisine. However, before Child won world renown, she worked in many interesting, non-culinary fields.
The most salient, to this Tea Sommelier, was her time with the OSS. According to biographer Laura Shapiro, the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA), employed Ms. Julia McWilliams (she wasn’t a Child yet) with the duties of “registering, cataloging and channeling a great volume of highly classified communications” for the OSS’s secret stations in Asia. Yep, Julia Child was a spy or sorts (and if that isn’t cool enough, the 6′ 2″ culinary legend had a black belt in Judo as well!).
For this posting, she was stationed right outside the scenic city of Kandy, in the country of Ceylon (which we now call Sri Lanka). While this may not strike you as extraordinary, Kandy is rather significant to this blog, as it lies just a few miles from the Kenilworth Estate in Ginigathena, the source of Tavalon’s Ceylon King!
And if that is not coincidental enough, Julia and her crew were actually stationed on a tea plantation themselves! She undoubtedly enjoyed many cups of the freshest Ceylon possible while covertly working on clandestine operations. The Sommelier in me would ponder if this tea experience may have even played a role in inspiring her future culinary endeavors… She certainly inspired me to get into the food and drink industry!
As you probably know, Julia has been getting a lot of press lately, mostly thanks to the new movie Julie & Julia, but also due to the fact that tomorrow, August 15th, happens to be Mrs. Child’s birthday. She’d be 97 if she was still with us.
So in honor of Julia Child and all her accomplishments, culinary and beyond, I say raise your Ceylon-filled teacups high and, in her unforgettable tone, say a hearty “Bon ApeTEA” to the Lady of the Ladle!