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Julie & Julia, Hotter Than A Stiff Cock.

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By James Geneau

 
Meryl Streep plays Julia Child in Julie & Julia.

Oh how I debated using this title for hours on end.  Should I dare use it?  What will people say?  Will it offend?  Will it draw attention?  Will it cause a buzz?

You see, I had the immense privilege of seeing the premiere of the new movie Julie & Julia this evening and this was a line from the movie.  Actually, it is supposedly a famous line Julia Child blurted to describe the feeling on her bare fingers as she pulled out a piece of semi-cooked pasta from a boiling pot.  In the scene, her husband Paul Cushing Child is describing Julia’s passion for cooking in a letter to a friend overseas.  The scene takes place in Paris during the 1940s and 50s; where Paul served as a foreign diplomat and when Julia fell in love with French cuisine.  In the next scene, a 29 year old Julie attempts to cook each of the 524 recipes from The Art of French Cooking (the original cookbook by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) within her personal goal of 365 days.  She is taking on the task of mastering French cooking in her small kitchen in Queens and writing the notes of her journey in a blog.  This is the story of Julie & Julia.

In 2002, a young woman started a blog to overcome her pre-30s anxieties of being “lost in her life” and in need of goals to challenge herself personally.  A dead-end job, a passion for writing, and a desire to find her own sense of place, forces her to take on the challenge of mastering each of Julia Child’s 524 recipes.  The screenplay for the movie, written and directed by Nora Ephron, was adapted from two books: My Life in France, Julia Child's autobiography, and a memoir by Julie Powell.   Julie Powell (aka Julie) was the young woman who created a blog and later re-wrote a novel entitled Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. 

To be fair, I had never read the book by Julie Powell nor did I read her blog.  I did, however, grow up with a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in our home and to this day have a copy of my own on the shelf next to my fridge.  I remember sitting in the kitchen as a child watching her on PBS with my mother and being fascinated by the many artful and intriguing steps required in the art of cooking.  Adding eggs, butter, and flour at just the right amount and time.  A little searing, some cream, then pop it in the oven.  I remember the omelet episode, the lobster controversy, and the signature “bon appétit” at the end of each episode.  However, the one thing I admired the most about Julia’s show while growing up was that it wasn’t an issue if it was a little bit messy.  Nobody was perfect, and Julia certainly wasn’t.  Her mantra in life, was to be persistent, never say never, and keep making mistakes until you succeed.  I could not think of a better role model.

And so, the title of role-model is exactly what Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) became for Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams).  In the film, the lives of the two women are intertwined in a story of passion and determination.  One side of the film shares the story of Julia’s life in Paris and her struggles to become a chef at Le Cordon Bleu, the creation of her iconic cookbook, and the long road to being published.  Many years later and on the other side of the Atlantic, Julie embarks on a different yet linked adventure requiring determination and patience. 

She is inspired by the life of a woman who took a male-dominated industry head-on.  She is moved by the passion of a woman who lived for food and the pleasures it could bring into our daily life.  In the film, the audience laughed at Streep’s portrayal of the giddy nature of Julia in Paris as she discovered fish drenched in butter, béarnaise sauce, and successfully flipped her first omelet.  The film shows the challenges one can overcome learning the art of cooking.  The big challenges and the smaller triumphs. Unlike any other sport, the success of the athlete in mastering the art of cooking can be whatever they desire and the rewards, almost instant.  It is completely up to the contender. 

The verdict?  It is a delightfully entertaining film about a two great women filled with passion and determination.  It shows the humorous and life-loving Julia Child and the influence she has on a 30-year old girl from Queens looking to better herself.  My personal hope for this film?  That it re-engages a new generation with the fine art of cooking.  We live in a time when the majority of young men and women don’t even know how to roast a chicken, boil an egg, or cook a roast.  Cooking involves emptying something from a bag, shaking it with a pre-made seasoning, or buying it ready for warm-up.  In 1961, Mastering the Art of French Cooking introduced the wonders of cooking at home to my mother’s generation.  It was what inspired her to pursue a degree in the same field and in turn, teach others to master as her students.  If this movie re-ignites Julia’s book and her passion for the art of cooking the same way it did countless others in the 1960s and 70s, it will be worth every penny spent by Hollywood.  In my opinion, if everyone took on the challenge of Julie Powell to master the art of cooking, then it would be hotter than…well, Julia says it best. 

And for those who think the title of my article is blasphemous, I “never apologize”.

Julie & Julia opens in Theatres August 7th.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures.



Comments


LOL--great article! You obviously have fond memories of Julie as do I. She had such a passion for food and it is infectious! I plan to see this movie asap! I also think it's about time I get my own copy of Julia's book....I have a million cookbooks but shame on me I don't have hers. : )
Post Reply By Kathleen in TORONTO on 7/28/2009 11:23:05 AM

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