She was rescued from a decade of empty social engagements by the war. At 30, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she landed a job, first as a typist in the Office of War Information, and then at the O.S.S. It was this move that led to her travels in South Asia where she met Paul Childs, perhaps the greatest influence in her personal and professional development. Ten years her senior, Paul was instrumental to Julia’s exposure to other cultures and burgeoning interest in food. Paul was also difficult in ways, as an artist with a thwarted career, stuck in a series of unrewarding governmental jobs. Their marriage makes for a moving read, in particular the balance Julia struck between her devotion to him and the practical choices she made to move forward with her career once Paul’s health deteriorated later in life.
That career began with a desire to improve her cooking and was spurred on by the fascination and awe she felt for French cuisine. Culinary curiosity led to lessons at Le Cordon Bleu, inspiring experimentation in her tiny Parisian kitchen to a degree that brings innovators like Bill Gates to mind. In fact, Child could easily be a case-study in Malcolm Gladwell’s "Outliers," as a woman who achieved immense success, in part due to circumstance, but most strikingly, because of the time she devoted to her craft. Spitz emphasizes that “[h]our upon hour was devoted to cooking, analyzing, tasting, recalibrating, cooking again and again and again and again,” to perfect the recipes that would comprise her chef d’oeuvre, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."