Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Julie and Julie: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen" by Julie Powell
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.
Julie Powell is 30 years old, living in a tiny apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's worn, dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes -- in the span of one year.
At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye.
And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her outer-borough kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life's ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.
I really enjoyed this book. I cannot imagine making recipes even knowing that I didn't like the food that I was making, but I am a notoriously picky eater so I might not be the best judge of that. All the butter she used turned my stomach a bit too. Recipes aside, I could identify with how sometimes even when you follow all the directions in a recipe it can still not turn out right. Plus how often does what is made at home actually look like the picture in a cookbook?
There were times when I though Julie whined a bit too much about really trivial stuff. There were also times when the cat hair in her kitchen made me want to gag, but I was glad that she tried to make her life real, not glossed over and perfect. I looked online to see if her old blog posts were still there (not real thoroughly so they may still be there, I only looked for a few minutes) but her current blog achieves do not go back that far. When I picked up the book I sort of expected that it was going to be her blog postings and some of her comments, but I have to say I think the way it was presented was perfect. Even before reading the synopsis I pictured her in a Bridget Jones kind of way. Also in my mind I saw her as Amy Adams and heard her speaking in Adams' voice as well, which worked out fine for this book. Sometimes I hate to see who was cast in the movie role for a book because then I'm not free to create my own image of that character, but Adams worked for this role except I don't think she is probably heavy enough. Julie kept talking about how she was gaining weight from the cooking and complaining about her clothing not fitting. From past roles I picture Amy Adams as very thin and trim, but who knows. Maybe in the movie they made her gain weight or added padding or something.
I enjoyed seeing Julie grow closer to friends through shared meals. I'm a bit surprised that as of her writing she was still living in the same apartment after all the issues they had with plumbing, heating and electricity. Definitely an entertaining read.