She was, for example, an Elvis fan. I learned that at a Washington gala in 1992 celebrating [Julia Child]'s birthday. Her assistant, Stephanie Hersh, told me that when Julia visited Memphis, Tenn., she cut a scheduled tour of an art museum to visit Graceland, the home of Elvis. Upon arriving at Graceland, Hersh recounted, Julia told a nervous tour guide to relax and show them "all the tacky stuff." And when Julia bought souvenir T-shirts, Elvis fans surrounded her, asking her to sign their copies of the Graceland cookbook. She gladly obliged.
Another night, after a fancy fund-raiser for the American Institute of Wine and Food, a nonprofit organization founded by Julia, I happened to walk with her as she headed to her hotel room. After dining on fine fare, such as risotto with porcini mushrooms, Julia talked about hamburgers. She made hers, she told me, by tossing a tablespoon of sour cream, a pinch of thyme and teaspoons of grated onion into the raw meat of each patty.