Wednesday, February 02, 2011

There is Only One Julia

I'll give Julie Powell full credit.  Yes, Julie Powell of the "Julie/Julia Project".  Julie Powell, the one who proved writing a cute blog doesn't make you an author.  Yes, I liked her first book well enough as you can see here. However I absolutely despised her second memoir Cleaving.  It was so bad.  That's all I'm going to say about it. I'm not even reviewing it.

Anyway...back to Julia.  The real and powerful, one and only Julia Child.  In the movie adaptation of Julie/Julia, Julia is given more time (yay) and Meryl Street portrays her with humour and aplomb.  So I picked up My Life in France, Julia Child's memoir of her time, primarily in Paris, with her husband Paul and learning how to cook.

Julia Child is an institution. She is much revered as a chef and generally a great gal.  It's legend and quite astonishing that she could barely boil water when she moved to Paris with her husband Paul, a diplomat, at the end of the second World War.  Just because she couldn't cook, doesn't mean she didn't like to eat.  Julia makes her love of food very clear throughout the book.

Julia moves to Paris, doesn't know the city, doesn't speak French but realizes quickly that she desperately needs something to keep her busy.  Her voice is strong as she recalls standing her ground and fighting her way into the Cordon Bleu.  Her tireless dedication to technique and detail, working harder than the men because she had to, is a theme that recurs throughout the book as she embarks on her huge project, the creation of what would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The other theme that runs through the book is love.  Not only love of food and cooking but the love shared between her and her husband Paul.  It underlies absolutely every word.  It's clear, Julia had an enormous capacity to love.  This extends out to her friends and extended family.

Julia's persona was so larger than life, especially as it was seen through her television appearances. One might even think that she became a caricature of herself.  I don't think so though.  She was passionate and smart and incredibly funny.  However, she never lost sight of who she was and what she believed in.

This is one of those books that I will read again and again.  For inspiration and to remind me of the important things in my life, my passions.  Cooking is one of them but as she so beautifully demonstrated through her life, one passion is not everything.

That being said, I am going to get Mastering the Art of French Cooking just so I can see if I can copy her omelet and I hear her boeuf bourgiugnon is the best recipe out there.