Saturday, September 5, 2009

Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia Movie Poster
Last night we went and saw the movie Julie & Julia (2009), a comedy-drama about the parallel lives of Julia Child (1912 – 2004) in the early years of her career in the 1950s and young New York woman, Julie Powell (1974 - ), in the early 2000s. Both women are trying to figure out what they’ll do in life, how they will make a difference. The connection between the women is underscored by Powell’s 2002 documented effort to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) in one year (she does).

The good points of the movie (getting on a soapbox here): no violence except for the boiling of lobsters and the boning of a duck. Also, the movie is a food lover’s paradise of kitchen, dinner, and food scenes. Okay we’ll grant you that some scenes like Julia arriving in France and coming into her new apartment with her husband Paul might be a bit over-romanticized but it worked for us.

Mastering the Art of French cooking was first published in 1961 and was authored by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The cookbook was aimed at making French cooking accessible to the American cook. The foreword to the book sets out the goal: “This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children’s meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat.” In 1962 Julia Child began her first cooking show on WGBH in Boston and the rest is history.

One aspect of Julia Child’s life that I left the movie with more of an appreciation of was her marriage with Paul Child (1902 - 1994). It seems they successfully combined friendship, partnership, and love seamlessly in their relationship. In the movie, there is a scene showing Julia and Paul posing for one of their infamous Valentine’s Card they sent to friends and family in 1956 of them in a bathtub.
Julia and Paul Child in a Bathtub

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