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Julia Child

Julia Child’s Secret Ingredient Was Espionage

August 14, 2008 01:55 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
TV chef Julia Child was a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, according to the agency’s recently released official archives.

Julia Child, Spy Chef

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Julia Child freely declassified the secrets of French cooking for the American public, but a collection of documents show that she was privy to more confidential information than she let on. Before she became a domestic goddess, Child was stationed in China and Ceylon, working as a spy with the Office of Strategic Services, an organization begun by Franklin Roosevelt that was a precursor to the CIA. Child’s work in the OSS has not been a secret for years, but the National Archive has just made public 750,000 pages of documents that include the personal files of all its spies. Information is now available on other OSS employees who became famous in other jobs, including baseball player Moe Berg and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Making OSS information public has been a slow process, and many of the organization’s employees were told never to speak of their spy work. Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society, told the Chicago Tribune that documents reveal the organization to be significantly larger than he even he was aware; there were 24,000 employees, rather than the 13,000 previously suspected.

The OSS Society reports that the newly released documents, which contain files of notable employees, will be available on CD. The files include travel documents, applications, medical data and information about training and stationing.

Background: Repellent Recipes

Long before she was famous for her kitchen concoctions, Child teamed up with male spies to create shark repellent for the OSS. She “literally cooked up a shark repellent,” Linda McCarthy, curator of an exhibit on female spies, told NPR.

Key Player: Julia Child

Child studied cooking in France, and then made it a goal to present French cooking to Americans in a manageable manner. She published several cookbooks and a TV show; according to PBS, she taught Americans to “practice cooking as art, not to dread it as a chore.”

Reference Links: Spy and Kitchen Secrets Revealed

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