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August 14, 2008 8:44 AM

The spy who came into our kitchen

Posted by Nancy Leson

The big news in the food world this morning? Julia Child was a spy!


This certainly won't be news to members of my book club, who recently read Julia's memoir, "My Life in France" and later discussed it over Julia's recipes and plenty of wine (I made moules marinieres). We figured that, having met her husband Paul when they were both working for the OSS in Ceylon (and later China), surely, once they got to France, the missus was doing more than just throwing dinner parties in their Paris flat on the "Roo de Loo."

Nor will it surprise reporter Susan Stamberg, who filed a 2002 NPR report regarding the exhibit "Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage," in which she quotes the curator of The National Women's History Museum, noting:

"Decades before becoming a famous chef, [Child] worked for the Office of Strategic Services. (The OSS was the predecessor to the CIA.) She was assigned to solve a problem for U.S. naval forces during World War II: Sharks would bump into explosives that were placed underwater, setting them off and warning the German U-boats they were intended to sink. `So... Julia Child and a few of her male compatriots got together and literally cooked up a shark repellent,' that was used to coat the explosives, McCarthy says."

Had Dan Ackroyd know that, he'd have donned his Julia Child get-up and used a Shark-O-Matic in his dead-on SNL tribute.

So, she can fry, make pie and spy. Shocked? Not me -- seen (out of focus, notebook in hand) spying on her at Sur la Table in this 1995 Seattle Times file-photo:

James Bond has nothing on Julia: She was a spy, yes. What's more, she could expertly wield a deadly weapon to honor her native country. And if you need proof, watch this telling video.

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