Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Julie & Julia, cooking and other musings...

Ahh, vacation. Who doesn't love it? And, then you come back to your job. Booo!

Last week while I was wasting away on Myrtle Beach, "West Virginia South", if you will... I made the second installment in my road to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and saw the movie Julie & Julia.

Monday, I made Coq Au Vin (specifically Coq Au Sauvignon Blanc) on pg. 263, oignons glaces a brun on page 483, and chamignons sautes au beurre on page 513. It. Was. Amazing.

I don't usually cook for other people besides myself and Jeremy. I'd love to, don't get me wrong. But our families don't live within a convenient distance to come over for dinner on a week night, and it always seems like on weekends we are on the go or eating at our families homes. So, it struck me as funny when I was cooking dinner for Jeremy, my mom and my brother. First, I realized very quickly how territorial I am in the kitchen--even when it's not MY kitchen. And, I realized how far I've come as a home cook. I think I am something else now, a bonafide foodie, dare I say.

Here's what I mean. I was shopping for groceries for the week with the fam. I had my list for the Coq Au Vin. I wanted unsalted butter. That is what I cook with 90% of the time when a recipe calls for butter (and ALWAYS bake with). My mom, who's a nurse, God love her, wanted to get the heart-healthy margarine instead. When I put the package of cut-up whole chicken in the cart, she asked why my recipe couldn't be made with boneless skinless chicken instead. Now, I'll be the first one to tell you about eating healthy, but this is different. The recipes are so detailed in their instruction that to venture off that path by signifcantly substituting ingredients would give you something less. Something wrong.

That got me thinking. Julia put such care into the recipes and was so meticulous, this is how the food was intended to be prepared. The cookbook was written over 40 years ago, in a totally different time. Before fast food. Before not having time for dinner. Before transfats. And before people ate because they were lonely, stressed out, bored or whatever. When Julia wrote the cookbook, I think people viewed meals as a time to enjoy what they were eating. Truly enjoy. I once read that Julia never "snacked" or had seconds. That's probably good advice for all of us, let alone those of us who are eating as much butter as the recipes call for...

The Coq au Vin was delicious, and I don't know about Jeremy, my mom or brother, but I truly enjoyed it. As for the onions, we agreed that we could have made a whole meal of those.

As for the movie, I thought it was great. I've read both books, or at least I've read Julie & Julia and part of My Life in France (I read until they had to move to Bonn, and then the book slowed down, but I surmise Julia would agree with that... She hated it when they moved from France). I was really glad some parts of the book made it into the movie, and some parts I wish they would have included... but I realize they had to fit it into 2 hours or so. I would have liked to have seen more of Julie's mom, and her goofy friend. Both had an more influence on Julie than the movie reflects. And the book starts out by Julie finding out she'll have trouble conceiving a child. That was a huge theme in the beginning of the book, and part of what led t to her frustration with her life. And I got the impression from the book that Julie didn't put much thought into cooking before the project, but in the movie, it seems like she already cooks as a hobby when she begins. All of the parts of Julia Child's story in the movie were fantastic. I especially loved the (very limited) part with her sister Dorothy "Dort." Stanley Tucci did a fabulous job--I couldn't think of a person more perfect to play Paul Child when I read he would be filling that role. And Meryl Streep was outstanding as Julia. I read before the movie came out, that when she read for the role, she did the first couple lines in that voice, and they told her the part was hers.

Today, in the paper, I read that MtAoFC is a best seller on both Amazon dot com and Barnes and Noble. As a matter of fact, the publisher ordered an additional 75,000 copies last week, which have already sold out on Amazon. I just wonder what the real Julie Powell thinks of all this, and especially, what Julia would have thought.


Erinn said...

It's my new favorite movie. Meryl Streep is a gem. I laughed AND cried and walked away satisfied. Jamie and I agreed, however, that Julie was written too, hmm, how do I say it? Saccharine? Where were all her F-bombs? Where was her grit? I love Amy Adams, but her Julie was a bit too whiny and helpless. I don't remember the Julie of the book that way. And yes, let's have more scenes with Dort.

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