Thursday, July 30, 2009

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia

This is my movie! How could it not be? It’s the tale of two foodies-- Julie Powell and Julia Child--directed by a third, Nora Ephron. You know the story behind the movie by now—how it is based on two books, one the memoir of famed chef Julia Child who brought American food out of the dark ages of Spam and Hamburger Helper, and the other by Julie Powell a blogger who made every recipe in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking during the course of one year and blogged about it daily becoming famous and publishing a best seller in the process. Both stories are old fashioned American success stories which we all enjoy almost as much as a great meal.

I went to the premiere with my friend Eve Gerber and with Alice Waters who knew Julia. At the premiere I laughed and I cried. There are so many scenes that I want to relive, like the one with Julia at the Cordon Blue cooking school, or Julie cooking lobsters. Meryl Streep was Julia, so much so that at times I forgot I wasn’t watching that big boned gal herself. I did wonder how they made petite Meryl look so tall and a crew member told me they surrounded her with short actors and had her stand on a box when she was cooking.

Afterwards we talked a lot about how the world of food has changed because of people like Julia Child and James Beard. Alice thought the movie was perfect except for one scene where Julie goes out on a winter’s day to buy ingredients and comes back with a bunch of basil. Not seasonal!! That’s Alice for you, if it’s not in season, don’t eat it.

I used to cut classes to come home and watch The French Chef. I was obsessed with Julia. The greatest day of my life was the day I won The Julia Child Award for a first cookbook for “I’m Almost Always Hungry.” Julia Child’s joy and love for food came across brilliantly in the film and reminded me of how much things have changed for TV chefs in the years since Julia reigned on television. Julia was a lover of food, not of celebrity. Her show was about cooking, not competition. It was a pure joy and she kept it pure. She also did her homework and knew her stuff, unlike so many food bloggers who sound off now with nothing to back up their opinions.
Julia taught us to be fearless in the kitchen. Julie Powell was also fearless, and the magic that drew her to Julia and that helped her through her daring year in the kitchen is one of the things that makes the movie so poignant.