Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie and Julia

Once the baby arrives, watching a grown-up movie in theatre will be a luxury. So, off we went to watch the movie Julie and Julia. I have the book (bought for $2 in Half-Price Bookstore's sale shelf) for couple of years now. I attempted several times to get into it but just can't (stuck at page 45). I don't know the particular reason. I love Julia Child (I still watch Baking with Julia in PBS). I love good food. I love anything French (I think). Perhaps, the author of the book, Julie Powell, reminded me of myself -- PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is not mentioned in the movie; too grim, perhaps), in her 30's but still lost, etc. etc. However, I probably envy her for her courage to do something outside the box -- to sign on for deranged (as she called it) assignment to cook the 524 recipes from Julia Child's classic book Mastering the Art of French Cooking (published in 1961) for a year and blog about it. I saw the aforementioned cookbook and the recipes are daunting for me, who could really use tons of palate and cooking skill polishing. If we win the lotto, the first thing I would do is enroll in Le Cordon Bleu (like Julia). The closest here is in Minneapolis but hell (excuse my French), I'll go to Paris for that (if money is not an issue).

The movie goes back and forth between the life of middle-aged Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in 1949 in Paris and the 2002 (post 9/11 era) existence of just-turned-30-year-old, government worker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who lives in Queens, NY. It shows how these women's lives were parallel despite the generational gap. Both were trying to find their calling in life. Both found their voices and emotional satisfactions in the kitchen. It tells the story on how the middle-aged Julia Child, exposed by her husband's (Paul) sophisticated palate, became interested with French cooking after moving to post-war Paris in 1949 due to her husband's employment with the Department of Justice. In Paris, she tried to occupy her time by enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu and teaching American women expats on French cooking. Captivated by the French cuisine, she looked for French Cookbook in English. One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when her husband Paul gave her a famous French cookbook, Larousse Gastronomique, and she and Paul were trying to translate one recipe in English. Unable to find one, she, along with co-authors, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, collaborated on a French cookbook for American housewives. Initially, signed on to be published by Houghton Mifflin, the manuscript was rejected due to being too much like an encyclopedia. After a decade of writing and perfecting recipes for the manuscript and several moves later, Paul and Julia settled in Cambridge, MA . There, in 1961, the cookbook was finally published by Alfred A. Knopf after an editor tried her Boef Burguignon recipe and was impressed.

On the other hand, living in modern day and feeling unsuccessful, Julie Powell (who was an unpublished writer then) was drawn to get into the assignment and write the experience in her blog. It was 2002 and blog was then a relatively recent concept. She then became one of the most famous bloggers in the web that followers sent her food stuffs. Cooking recipes from the cookbook had it's ups and downs. She wrote everything in her blog -- successes and mishaps--as well as new discoveries on how to cook properly. In the process, she also found herself. She then got an interview from NY Times and became quite well-known that several publishers became interested on her. She found out, however, that Julia Child was not happy with her.

In general, the movie is light-hearted, maybe too feminine to some. It gave you an insight to Julia Child's life -- her struggles, humor, marriage, silent heartaches for being childless and successes despite finding her calling in her 40's (never too late, huh?). For people who love good food and humor (okay, add to that France), this movie is a real stimulant to the senses. Meryl Streep played the Julia Child role so exceptionally -- from the voice to mannerism. Only 5'6" in height (compared to Child's 6'2" frame), Streep is mesmerizing and larger-than-life in this role. I could never imagine anyone else playing Julia Child. Amy Adams is quite adorable as Julie Powell. This movie left me wanting to know more Julia.

Watching the movie will make you salivate for good, real food, which is not easy when you are trying to control your Gestational Diabetes. French food requires the use of real butter -- and lots of it! I felt my stomach gurgled several times and my husband moaned "hmmm... hmmmm" few times. If not in my current predicament, I would probably make Boef Burguignnon as soon as I got home. For now, however, this movie is a guilt-free, satisfying treat for me. The goal now is to finish the book...


Makis said...

Glad you had a nice movie day, Loraine! I prefer cooking a "coquelet au vin (baby cocks, I think!)," because I'm too lazy for long cooking :) It's the same as the "bœuf bourguignon," recipe, cooked in red wine. Hope you're feling better, emotionally & health wise :)

malor said...

Thanks Makis, I am. I will try that recipe. I will have company next month. Anyway, I had Dr. appointment today. Had difficulty with my sugar this morning but doctor said I did a good job controlling it. I have to go back in 2 weeks. They took a vial of bld. again to see my 3 month sugar. Baby is moving fine, though.

malor said...
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