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Julia Child wasn't perfect in the kitchen, and that was perfect

Child was revolutionary in the kitchen, and wasn’t afraid to show herself being human.

Julia Child
Julia Child
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Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Most cooking shows today are built on the assumption of perfection. Though shows like Nailed It and The Great British Baking Show embrace the many ways in which things can go wrong in the kitchen, the dominant trend in cooking shows is of flawless, over-achieving displays of cooking prowess and kitchen appliance porn. Flour is never spilt, eggs are cracked with a surgeon's precision, butter is obedient, and fussy shellfish bend to the will of Food Network's chefs.

That's not how real-life cooking happens. Julia Child knew this. Child always told her audience that cooking is personal, something you don't always get right, something you shouldn't take too seriously.

In honor of Julia Child's 106th birthday, let's remember this force of nature as the woman who wasn't afraid of a wayward flip of a potato pancake:

Let's also remember the woman who wasn't afraid to make fun of herself with David Letterman. Letterman asked her if she ever made anything bad (she said she did) and what she did with the food. "Give it to my husband," Child said, as she proceeded to make Letterman "beef tartare au gratin."

Nor was Child afraid to make fun of herself and intentionally burn her food:

These short videos are all part of Child's larger mantra: don't be afraid of failure in the kitchen. And don't be afraid to laugh at yourself: