Julia had long ago disclosed that during World War II she worked for the OSS, the intelligence agency that later became the CIA. She always said she typed names on file cards and performed other clerical tasks.
But the CIA has now released 750,000 pages of classified documents from the time of the OSS, which President Franklin Roosevelt created (as) the country's first centralized intelligence operation. Within this huge cache of papers were the names of thousands of citizens who worked as spies for the United States during WWII, including The French Chef herself, when she was still Julia McWilliams.
I can just see Julia, perhaps with her curly head wrapped tightly in a scarf against the winter wind off the Seine, meeting a secret source over a steaming bowl of bouillabaisse in the far reaches of the 13th.
Or maybe she rendezvoused while sampling escargots in a glorious garlic butter, perfect for dipping the crustiest baguette into. Ah no, THAT would leave a trace - the garlic breath, perhaps a soupçon of parsley in the teeth. She would have been more discreet - a kir at La Coupole or, maybe with more time, a simple sole meunière served with a good dose of covert intelligence.
Here is a wonderful account of what we know already about her wartime activities. Parts of these tasks had been known for years.
In the coming days, hopefully, we’ll learn the whole story of what it is that the indomitable Julia Child did for her country back then, but for right now, I feel good knowing, even more than before, that Julia - Teacher, Cook and Host Extraordinaire - can also be known as Patriot.