I always try to tell my kids something they can easily purchase for me when a gift is necessary. This past Christmas I suggested the DVD of Julie & Julia, a movie I never got to the theater to see.
On Christmas morning I found out both of my offspring had wrapped this one for me. My son described his sojourn to get that which his mother wanted. He traipsed from store to store, and had to “shove” a rather large woman to get the last copy at Best Buy. My daughter had just picked it up at Target where “they had, like, a million copies.”
Needless to say, I kept the one from my son.
Reviews of the film raved about the Julia portions, especially Meryl Streep’s performance (big surprise there), but found the Julie segments wanting. I would agree that the story of Julia Child and her book for us “servantless Americans” soared, but the depiction of Julie Powell cooking and blogging her way through the tome also hit home for me (and who doesn’t love Amy Adams?).
Watching the movie got me thinking, because I used to cook. Not just throw stuff on the table, but plan real food prepared without a microwave. That stage of my life hit the yuppified 1980’s, so my culinary bible was not Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
On a shelf in the kitchen, where I keep the tattered cookbooks I use the most, sets an original copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook. A 25th anniversary edition is now available with color photos; my copy remains black and white, with line drawings and hospitality suggestions in the inner margins.
I remember coming home from work as a resident physician, telling my husband to eat some chips, and then conquering a wonderful, complex dish from its pages (after a much needed trip to some gourmet specialty shop). Cooking could be risky and creative, but no one ever died (unlike my day job).
I realized that with my youngest child 17 and ready to leave the nest, I could do some more recreational cooking again. I pulled my book off the shelf, and it fell open to Mediterranean chicken salad. This mixture of chicken breast, nicoise olives, tomatoes, and olive oil not only pleases the palate, but also provides a packable lunch and some of the best chicken stock you will ever use.
I am still exploring my cookbook again, often with Meryl/Julia playing in the background.
If you are reading this blog, then you know that I am familiar with the world of Julie as well. This part of the movie did not get respect in reviews. My spouse cannot understand why I spend anytime online blogging (or tweeting, or anything else), and it seemed that many of the reviewers felt the same way.
During the film we also meet Julia’s pen-pal, Avis De Voto. Their first face-to-face meeting is depicted in the move, but Julia wrote volumes of letters to Avis before they actually met. Julia Child found a friend through written correspondence; how is that different from the friends I have found online?
Admittedly, many of my tweeps use pseudonyms, so I do not know their real-life identities. But how much does a real-life name matter when you need to bitch about your job or shout out a triumph? Not that much.
I have watched this movie “several” times now, often while preparing some complex dish. I see the parallels not only between the movie’s characters, but also with events in my present, absolutely non-fictional life. And I blog about all of it here.