Movie – Julie & Julia

I wrote about not having heard of Julia Child before but this doesn’t stop me from wanting to see this film. Any film about food is at least worth considering.

I still don’t know much about Julia Child, other than her husband worked for the US Embassy and so they were posted to Paris in the post war 1940’s and then onto a succession of European cities. Julia Child however, had got the cooking bug in Paris and having married Paul Child relatively late, in her mid 30’s, I guess the war got in the way of romance, she was looking for something to do in Paris. Her first choice was hat making but her love of food, supported by her husband’s refined taste lead her to a cookery course.

Disappointed at the very basic level of cooking, she had to assert her way past the female task master in charge of entry to the school to eventually join the all male Gordon Bleu class and apparently that’s how America was introduced to French cooking.

I’ve not seen any evidence of this having travelled across a good chunk of the land of the spray-on cheese, fluffy mallow and hot dogs – unless of I go into a French Restaurant. The chic French menu doesn’t seem to have infiltrated the US of A as it has in the UK where I grew up with roux sauce (white sauce), choux pastry (éclairs), crème brûlée and pancakes (crepes). Indeed roux sauce was one of the very first things I learnt to make as an infant foodie in the mid 1970’s. However, I will be keeping a close eye out for French influences and questioning random Americans of their experiences when I return there.

This didn’t detract from the film. What was very slightly off-putting was the excruciatingly noisy scraping of plates, loud eating and talking with mouths full. I was hoping I wouldn’t notice after a while and 20 minutes later, I had either stopped detecting or it stopped. What didn’t stop was Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) operatic voice. Knowing Meryl Streep’s track record, I am sure she studied her character closely and this was accurate but it does mean that it’s entirely possible that Julia Child was separated at birth from Dame Edna Everage.

This didn’t detract either as the film glided effortlessly though the other story, that of Julie Powell, a bored, aspiring writer working for the Manhattan Development Corporation dealing with callers in the aftermath of September 11th. Put aside the fact that this difficult job should pay enough for the New Yorker and her editor husband to actually live on the island itself, the film opens with them moving from Brooklyn to Queens for more space, resulting in an even longer, wretched commute to the lower Manhattan call centre.

As an outlet for her daily stress, and after a stupendously dull lunch with her now thankfully ex-corporate-type friends plus the fact that she spent 6 years only half finishing her novel, Julie hits upon the idea of cooking all 524 of Julia Child’s recipes from her original book ‘Mastering The Art of French Cooking’ in 365 days. Project Julie/Julia is born with the help of her husband who started her blogging in the New York minute that the rest of us know it takes.

Her husband, Eric, insisted that now she could be called a writer. She obviously didn’t have my inspiring writing teacher in New York who impressed upon me if I write, I’m a writer. It doesn’t matter if you get paid or if anyone reads it (although admittedly both facilitate).

Back to Julia Child in Europe in the 40’s, her idea was to go onto teach Gordon Bleu cooking until two French friends approached her to help Americanise their rejected cook book. Their book was finally accepted by an American publisher in 1961 after years of editing and tweaking and sending to publishers.

As these are two entwined true stories, we know that Julie’s blog developed a fan base, eventually to be picked up by the New York Times and the rest is the stuff that Hollywood films are made off, book and film deals ensuing. At the time of Julie’s blog fame, Julia Child was still alive celebrating her 90th birthday but Julie’s book didn’t come out until 2005, a year after her the cook’s passing.

The only downside is that the whole world is going to be blogging now but if it means more fantastic films like this, I’m all for it. Here’s to Julie and Julia part two, surely there is more to tell once they were both successful?

Like the rising popularity of certain foods after being featured by the TV cooks Delia Smith and then Jamie Oliver in recent years, expect sales of duck, lobsters and lean beef to be on the increase in supermarkets around the world. This film is getting people into the kitchen. 8½/10 Martha Stewart was right
Smile factor 9/10

Julie’s blog

September 11th 2009 (Not forgotten)

Additional comment
As you know, I loved this film so much I had to see it again, particularly as anything new out wasn’t as appetizing.
The great thing about watching a film again is you pick up on new bits that you didn’t notice before. Such as:
Julia did start a hat making course before starting to cook
And Bridge class
You musn’t overcrowd mushrooms when cooking them (I love that!)
And you must dry meat before cooking to brown it better

Superb or what?

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4 thoughts on “Movie – Julie & Julia

  1. hehe I told you about my Julie/Julia experience the other day on Twitter.

    I loved the film and came home looked up the recipe for Scrambled eggs and made those for my tea. I then started making cookies. They got burnt because I made a second round of Scrambled eggs for my OH when he got in from his meeting. I then made cakes the following morning and they were fine but were like little mountains. How do you make proper cupcakes with flat tops? Is there a knack that I don’t know about?!?

    • Yes I read about your cooking escapades! Well I used to be a big baker but haven’t done it in years. I have an issue with cupcakes in the UK; they are not cupcakes, they are just fairy cakes with more frosting, I mean icing.
      America does cupcakes, we do fairy cakes.
      Rant over, I know they use rapeseed oil and cornflower over there so don’t know if that makes a difference. Perhaps bake at sligtly higher temperature so they bake faster but don’t rise as much? Have you got hold of some proper American recipes to follow? I have a book but alas it’s in New York along with most of my belongings!

      • I have an amazing cookery book that I was given when I got married. It’s an American book (and in this film it’s on Julia Powell’s Bookcase lol) it’s called The Joy of Cooking – I’ve got about the fifth version – mine has multiple post it notes stuck in it with little tweaks and changes that I make lol.

  2. Ooooh that’s so great! I had the Hamlyn all colour cook book when I was about 13-14 and lived with it until I stopped cooking (ironically when after my marriage as he was so good) post divorce, never did start again although have cooked twice in last 12 months – that’s good. I wd like to start again when I eventuall settle (in the US) I still have the book complete with alterations, notes and post its but it’s in NYC at the mo. Pity as I really fancy making my infamous secret recipe chocolate fudge brownies.
    Keep me posted on what you make out of Joy of Cooking – may have to put that on the list for when the time comes!

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