Julia Child Would Have Turned 106 Today—Here's Why I'll Always Remember Her

It was late afternoon on one of my childhood Thanksgivings, and the cranberries were everywhere. On the kitchen table, peeking out from under the fridge, pouring out of the ice-encrusted bag lying slumped on the countertop. My mom handed me a colander, and five minutes later, the cranberries were swept up and soaking off their kitchen dirt in the sink. Feeling vaguely like we were getting away with something, I looked at my mom, who shrugged. “You’re alone in the kitchen!” she said in a high, fluty voice and kept on cooking.

Twenty-five or so years later, we were far from partners in crime. Coming hard on the heels of a difficult and contentious breakup, I couldn't deny that my relationship with my family had been challenged and changed. Almost two full years earlier, I’d heard through my women’s college grapevine that a friend of a friend had bought La Pitchoune, Julia Child’s home in Provence, and was opening a new cooking school. Immediately, I knew this was somewhere I had to go with my mother, the person who taught me to cook. But upon arriving at La Pitchoune, a mother-daughter retreat in the South of France felt a little more like a cosmic joke and a little less like a dream vacation.