Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

As part of the most recent Weekly Geeks, I'm reviewing this book "interview style." I received more questions from Joy Renee, and I promise I'm not ignoring her excellent questions, but they require more thought, and in the interest of just getting this posted, and I'm going to have to skip those.

What is Julie and Julia about?
Julie Powell was 29 years old, working as a secretary in post-9/11 New York City, and was basically having an existential crisis. After running across Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking at her mother's house, Julie came up with the idea of cooking all the recipes in the book over the course of a year. Her husband, Eric, suggested she blog about it and thus started the Julie/Julia Project. The blog became extremely popular and ultimately Julie got a book deal out of it, the finished product being Julie & Julia. The book is not just a republishing of the blog in book form, but instead it is Julie's recounting of her experience cooking and blogging her way through the project. Another one of the questions was is this non-fiction. Yes, it is.

Please share your impressions of Julie as a person.
This one is a tough one. If you've read my previous post about this book, you will know that maybe 1/3 of the way through the book I realized I went to high school with Julie. She was a year younger than me, and we didn't really know each other, but I definitely knew who she was. Especially since she dated someone who eventually dated one of my best friends and, um, me, sort of. So while reading this book, I couldn't keep from picturing her as I remembered her from almost 20 years ago and trying to reconcile that memory with what I was reading. Hard to do when you didn't really know the person other than in passing. I actually know way more about her now than I ever did then! One funny thing. At the point in the book where I began to really wonder if this might be the same Julie I remembered, she mentioned being on her high school drill team and that the only reason she had tried out was to prove she couldn't make it, but then did and had to suffer through it for the year. I distinctly remember being *very* surprised way back when that she was on drill team - she just didn't seem the type. I guess I was right! Getting back to the real question though. I really liked Julie in the book (even before I realized who it was). I've seen some scathing reviews, and a lot of people really disliked her, but I thought her humor was great. She may have been a little obsessive (can't really say much there, as I think I would be the same way if I were doing something like this). The one thing that seemed a little weird was her VERY STRONG dislike of Republicans. Now, I'm a Democrat, but I thought some of the things Julie said about her Republican coworkers was just downright mean.

The book came out of a cooking project and a blog. Did it inspire you to take on a similar project of your own?
It made me think this could be a cool idea, but I don't think I could ever take on anything like this. I am way too picky of an eater to work my way through an entire cookbook. I could see wanting to cook all the recipes that I would *eat* maybe... Or all the desserts in a book. Hmmm...that's not a bad idea!

Addendum: (I originally wrote out these responses last Friday, and I've thought more about this since then.) While I could never take on an official project like this, I did buy a copy of The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas last night, and I have every intention of attempting as many recipes out of this book as possible. I even will likely blog about it (among other food-related things) at a yet-to-be-created blog which I will call "Hold the Onions, Please."
Have you ever tried to master the art of French cooking? Would you want to?

No and no! I wouldn't mind dabbling a bit, but French food's not my thing really. Or maybe it's just this impression of French food I have that's not my thing.

Did you feel that Julie adequately conveyed the humor and struggles of trying to live up to a famous cookbook author? How would this book have been different if she'd tried taking on Martha Stewart, for example?

Yes, I thought Julie did a really good job at this. I'm not sure the book would have been that different had she been trying to be Martha. Different struggles, but probably similarly frustrating.

Edited to add this question...Did you find any good recipes in the book?

This wasn't a cookbook, per se, so no. There were references to a few recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that sounded good, though, that I might one day hunt down. Don't remember what they were, though....

I passed this book along to a friend of mine this past weekend that I went to high school. She was much more informed than me. When I asked, "Do you remember Julie Foster?" she said, "Yes! Didn't she write a book or something?"

This book will fill the "J" title category in the A-Z challenge.

1 comment:

Debi said...

I'd never heard of this book (well, except in your previous post, but even then I had no clue what it was about). Sounds like kind of a fun read, really different.

I'm looking forward to your cooking blog!