Saturday, December 30, 2006

book review: Julie and Julia

I just finished the most interesting book. Well, interesting to me as a person on a cooking quest. Prior to this, I haven't sat down and READ a book in a long time. It's usually audiobooks while driving. I bought this book at the airport on the way home from Lake Tahoe earlier this month. It's called Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.

Julie Powell is a 29-year-old secretarial temp. Unhappy with her job. Not sure what to do with her life. Not ready to have kids. She decides to take on a project: she will cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There are 524 recipes all of which Julie plans to cook within one year - 365 days. AND she blogs about her experience. Her Julie/Julia Project blog is still available online.

I dream of doing something like this. I LOVE cookbooks. I buy them and look through them but then am usually too tired from reading to actually cook anything. I've been really making an effort to cook more and more lately. So I love this gal's concept and determination. In fact, I started rachel's bite as a way of having some ownership and sharing my experiences with my recipe cooking. You can say that this book inspired me.

What is really interesting is that a few months ago I listened to the audiobook of My Life in France by Julia Child. This was the last book she wrote before she died and it was all about how she got started cooking, cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu in France, her decision to write a cookbook about French food for Americans (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) which she wrote with two friends, and the beginning of her television series. That book was GREAT. Julia Child is a very interesting person.

I really enjoyed Julie and Julia because Julie is a real person, similar to myself, who is going to conquer this old cookbook and I got to read about her trials and errors. It is humorous too because she discusses all her frustrations in finding rare ingredients and the all the difficult techniques first identified by Julia Child. These are the typical things I go through almost every time i cook a recipe from a magazine or something on The Food Network (especially Emeril!). And it really is a different world now. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was first published in the 60s. Ingredients and kitchen gadgets have changed so much since then. And that book fills each recipe with butter and cream which seems so unhealthy now.

Of course the down side is that now I want to complete a similar project. I have no interest in cooking everything int Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I don't like French Food too much, even though I'd love to execute some of Julia Child's recipes - just to say I can. However I would like to make all the recipes in The Joy of Cooking. I would love to learn to cook all the basics in that one. Unfortunately that one has over 4500 recipes so it would take me years to complete. But who knows . . .

Below is a cute clip I found on YouTube which someone made highlight one of the funniest part of Julie and Julia . . . Julie's experience with attempting to get bone marrow for a steak recipe:


Madeline said...

After her book was published, she got lots of flack for saying mean things about food bloggers in interviews. For example, she said most food blogs are really boring. Cate at Sweetnicks wrote a post about it here.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this book as well. I found Julie's personality to be interesting and her stories fascinating.

To what madeline said: I don't know how much flak Julie got, but her comment was more to the effect of not finding blogs that are just about food to be very interesting. I get the impression that Julie likes food, but isn't a foodie. She's interested in people-a trait which makes a good writer.