Foodie In Training

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Book Review: Julie & Julia

I just finished a good book with a foodie twist; Julie & Julie: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell.  The book is about Julie Powell, a 29-year-old secretary living in New York who was at a crossroads in her life.  She was feeling pressure to start a family, in an uninspiring job and living in a small apartment in Queens.  It starts when she is home visiting her parents in Texas, she picks up her mothers battered old copy of Julie Child's first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MTAOFC)and it calls to her.  She decides to start a project called the Julie/Julia project where in the span of one year she will cook every recipe in MTAOFC.  She did this project in 2002 and actually blogged about the experience and created quite a following.  By the end of the year she was interviewed by many newspapers (including the New York Times) and appeared on CNNfn.  In the book she documents the year of making all of the recipes with a lot of stories about her daily life, working at her job and all of her crazy friends.  She cooks everything from Potage Parmentier (potato soup) to making everything from the aspic chapter.  MTAOFC is a staple of French cooking but it is bit outdated.  She lived in New York City and still had trouble finding some of the ingredients.  Throughout the year she cooked all of the recipes and had many meltdowns, but as corny as it sounds, she kind of found herself and what she really enjoys doing.  She realized that if she could accomplish this, than the skies the limit.
After Julie completed the project, Julia Child passed away and I think she sums up her experience well in the blog post after Julia's death: "I have no claim over the woman at all, unless it's the claim one who had nearly drowned has over the person who pulled her out of the ocean."  The project was life-changing, she is no longer a secretary in a dead-end job, now she is a writer.   Overall, I really liked the book, there were times when I wished she talked more about the recipes and less about her friends and random stories, but I think it really speaks to how powerful food and cooking can be.  Julie was not a professional chef, nor did she have a lot of fancy gadgets or expensive cookware. It also doesn't seem like she had a lot of space in her cramped Queen's apartment, but by sheer determination and passion, she created beautiful dishes(and a many disasters) in her quest to complete the Julie/Julia project.  Grade- B+

It almost makes me want to take on a similar project, maybe Ryan and I will vow to complete the entire Mario Batali cookbook in one year.   Maybe next year...

1 comment:

Ryan said...
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