Julie and Julia: A Delicious Helping Of Life's Travails

I saw the movie first, and then had to read the book. The movie Julie and Julia tells the true story of a temp-turned-blogger-turned-best-seller-writer, and was just too good to end with the credits. So, for my birthday my hubs gave me the book and Julia Child's “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (MTAOFC), quite an imposing tome, too. (I have yet to try cooking with this food bible, but maybe I'll try making something fancy for our anniversary)

Julie Powell seems like the ordinary girl stuck in a rut working as a temp secretary for an agency in charge of selecting the design for the memorial after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. She longs to have a passion for something, a clear direction for her life since she married and moved to a small, cramped apartment in Long Island with her devoted – and very patient – husband Eric. Julie's friends have power jobs, and her mother is on her case about never finishing anything when she picks up her mom's MTAOFC during a visit to her hometown in Texas. She 'borrows' the book, takes it back to her oppressive apartment and peruses the pages one fateful evening as she's having another existential meltdown with her husband. Eric suggests she start a blog where she can put her talents as a writer to work. But, what to write about? The brainstorming gives way to The Project: Cooking 524 recipes in 365 days from Julia Child's epic cooking guide. (Click link for the actual blog).

And so it begins. The blog starts off slowly, but then garners enough readers that Julie feels indebted to them and has to finish this project no matter what. This is where the meat of the book is; she encounters unexpected obstacles, frustrations, cooking disasters and challenges that she wants to give up on the project which was taking over her life.

Have you de-boned a duck before? How about boiled live Lobster after working eight hours? Neither have I, and I have no intentions of doing any of this. Why, for heavens sake, when I can buy these animals cooked and seasoned?

Page after page of her trails and tribulations with cooking and her personal life, start to get attention from 'foodies'  and the 'bleeders' as she calls them. Soon, Julie gets noticed for being very open and explicitly descriptive about her encounters with uncoagulated aspic and her marital problems as she tries to stick to her goal of cooking while keeping her marriage together.

The book and the movie are also a delicious tribute to the one and only Julia Child who, in real life, was not amused by Julie's 'Project' or her writing (a few too many expletives, perhaps?), as much as Julia wanted Madam Child's approval. Never the less, Julie gets recognition for own merits, and her story is now out for all of us to enjoy.

I highly recommend both the movie and the book to anyone who is looking for direction, inspiration or confirmation to keep at this thing called a purposeful life. You never know what you'll learn in the process like Julie did; she discovered she had the internal fortitude to grab a knife, stab an innocent animal, dismember it, gut it, cook it and eat it. Then, write about it while having dessert…

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