Julia Child's ebullient personality, vast knowledge of food, wit and distinctive voice made her the most beloved and influential of pioneering television chefs. More than anyone, she got Americans to take home cooking seriously. Now 88, Child still makes television appearances and writes books, the latest of which is "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Lessons From a Lifetime of Cooking," being published this month. Child spoke from her home in Cambridge, Mass. She also has a residence in Santa Barbara.
Desktop: I'm not sure. [She laughs heartily.] I'm not a nerd; I just use it all the time. I can't imagine not having one.
I've been doing my writing on a computer since back in the 1980s, before Windows and all that. I think once you start on a computer, you can't use anything else. It's just a marvelous invention. I think back to my first book ["Mastering the Art of French Cooking," published in 1961], when we did everything with carbon paper and had to make six copies. It was endless.
[There's a pause as Child goes to her office to turn on her computer.]
It says "Dell."
Laptop: That's a Toshiba. I live part of the time in Santa Barbara, so I take it there and plug it in. I think as long as a computer has a good screen, it doesn't matter that it's smaller.
Unfortunately, this one is heavy. I can't take it around all the time.
Hand-held: I have not tried one of those yet. But they sound interesting.
Bookmarked Web sites: I love using the Internet, even though it's a great time-waster. It's not very good for cooking, though. You can find recipes, but they aren't very deep.
It is great for research. The boyfriend of a friend of mine had a liver disease; we located information about it, and it was quite useful.
For searches, I use Dogpile [http://www.dogpile.com]. I love it; I think it's the best one. And it's amusing to push the Fetch button to start a search.
Last Web site visited: Probably Amazon [http://www.amazon.com]. Most of my books that I order come from there.
Screen saver: I have one from our television shows with Jacques Pepin ["Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home"]. It's very nice.
I used to have a computer that could make sounds, and I had a screen saver that would moo. I loved that, and when you turned the computer off it made a tremendous crash sound.
[She laughs again.]
I think you might as well have fun while you're at it, just like in cooking.
Cell phone: I have one, but I don't use it an enormous amount. I seem to be mostly home at my desk these days, working.
Favorite tech toy: Does the food processor count? I could not do without my computer, but in the kitchen it's the food processor I rely on.
Home audio/video system: I just have a regular television. The cable system here is not very complete. I can't get the Food Network. I would like to get a satellite dish so I could get everything.
Everyday technology uses: I do lots of e-mail. I think it's just marvelous.
I know a young couple--he's a Russian specialist who was sent to Leningrad--and they kept in touch every day by e-mail. I remember how long it used to take to set up a call to foreign countries. Now you just press a button and send e-mail.