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Aug 9, 2009 05:04 AM

What Julia ACTUALLY THOUGHT about Julie's Blog


Child and Powell never met, but Child did have a comment about her exploits:

Judith Jones, senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf, and Child's editor and friend, shared Child's sentiments with Publisher's Weekly:

"Julia said, 'I don't think she's a serious cook.' ... Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn't attractive, to me or Julia," Jones said. "She didn't want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt."

  1. BTW, here is what Chef Virginia Willis (who knew and cooked with Child) has to say.Chef, cookbook author and food blogger Virginia Willis' slam set the tone. While professing "no malice," it took Powell to task for daring to question Child's recipe, once:

    "One day she made a comment implying a recipe being wrong for roast chicken. I honestly don't remember what it was, but it struck me as being so disrespectful, completely without deference to Julia Child, that I stopped. What the hell did she know about food? Had she even heard of poulet de Bresse? Didn't go back.

    People who happen to eat and are able to type are now our new food experts... Good grief, people who don't know how to begin to roast a ding dang chicken without following a recipe can be our new, ahem, food experts."

    I'm on a rant I guess. Mastering The Art was the Holy Bible in our house when I was growing up, Julia Child a saint, goddess, mother of deliciousness and idol of my mother, dad and me. Did anyone notice Powell preparing gallons of stocks for her sauces which take hours of shopping and cooking? She must have been awake 24/7 to cook all of those recipes in a year.

    Of course Streep was perfect and hilarious but folks, that is old news. Read "My Life In France" to get her whole delightful story without the interruptions of that insecure hipster and her insipid musings. Bowl of pablum, not a slice of pate if you ask me.

    87 Replies
    1. re: missclaudy

      How funny that people are getting so indignant, when Julia herself was the queen of irreverence. No one is a saint, not even Julia. Which was sort of the point of the movie, if you'd bothered to pay attention.

      Apparently you haven't seen the movie, because the fact that Julia "hated" Julie's blog was extensively addressed -- as was the fact that Judith Jones agreed to come to dinner and then stood her up, which doesn't make her look very good and doesn't give her much credibility on the subject.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Ruth, I have been reading your posts for years and you are one of the people I most respect on this sight. I saw the movie, the first show of the day, the day it opened and I paid pretty good attention. I love Julia (and anyone) for being irreverent and I am also a fanatical movie lover so I am disappointed on many fronts. The fact That Julia didn't like the blog was addressed in one scene for a minute,not extensively as far as I am concerned.

        I guess I am indignant that this topic, so pregnant with possibility about a person so dear to my (and many of our hearts around this sight) was just not great as I had hoped. I waited for it with great anticipation. Seems like a blatant effort to make as much $ as possible (wouldn't a movie without Julie been so much more fun and interesting considering the players ? ) I guess you can't make a block buster Hollywood comedy hit these days without cute young things,so that millions of cute young things will fork over $10 to see it.) I am not a fan of any of Efrons movies actually, I find them way too insipid. I do admire her for her nectarine tart recipe which my mother made every summer and for her knowledge and love of food and Julia. Being a lover of food and culture and coming from a family (French step father) who care as much about beautiful food and it's preparation as we do about life, love, art and each other, I am just not willing to settle for warmed over leftovers which could and should have been one of the most the most delicious meals of all of our lives.

        1. re: missclaudy

          "The fact That Julia didn't like the blog was addressed in one scene for a minute,not extensively as far as I am concerned."

          That may be your perception, based on your own ideas of what the movie should be (which I somewhat agree with), but it's not accurate.

          I also don't see where Julie was changing recipes. Your comments seem to be based on one rather snide comment by someone with her own ax to grind about food bloggers and your perception that just because they didn't show it, it didn't happen, even though they did show her making aspic from scratch. Just because watching someone make stock from scratch doesn't make great entertainment doesn't mean it didn't happen. If you're cooking like that every day, you undoubtedly make big batches of stock on the weekends, and the movie did mention at several points how late they were eating, presumably because of the time involved in shopping and prepping.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            ""The fact That Julia didn't like the blog was addressed in one scene for a minute,not extensively as far as I am concerned."

            That may be your perception, based on your own ideas of what the movie should be (which I somewhat agree with), but it's not accurate."

            If it was addressed "Extensively" otherwise, I must have been in the bathroom at those times.


            1. re: Davwud

              We must have been in the same line for the bathroom. I recall only that one scene as well.

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yes, one scene. And if memory serves me right, it was after the Judith Jones debacle.
              This was the most annoying part of the movie for me.

            3. re: missclaudy

              I AM a serious really is my passion. My mom was a chef. I am over 50, and I loved the movie. I am not a cute young thing..not by a long shot...and as I watched people file into the movie theater, it was clear that the average age of the men and women coming to see the movie were between 35 and 65. I watched..and made notes.

              Amy Adams played a character that was/is flawed in many respects. Meryl Streep was amazing as Julia. Yes, I'd love to see Meryl play her in "My Life in France".

              For the 15 or so young things in the theater that day, I am happy they got a wonderful glimpse of Julia Child..because it was a movie dedicated to her.

              When I got home, I retrieved my mom's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and read it for hours. Two days later I made her recipe for "French Beef Stew"...which took several hours of blissful prep...and many pots and pans.

              1. re: melly

                I think everyone is overlooking the fact that the depiction of Julia was Julie's idea of Julia…not necessarily factual Julia. While the Julia storyline was based off of "My Life in France" it still was Julie's perception of that story. That is why Julia was portrayed as being so perfect...because Julie viewed her as being perfect.

                The scene where Julie realizes that Julia hates her blog was brief but a very poignant scene of the movie. It was the first time that it was suggested that Julia wasn't perfect. And anyone suggesting that she was perfect is sadly mistaken, as nobody is perfect. Nobody!

                I took Edith Jones snub of Julie as loyalty to Julia, as I'm sure Julia let it be known that she didn't approve. I doubt this was lost on Julie.

                In spite of the hurt feelings on either side, I seriously doubt Julia would be so disapproving now considering what the movie has done for the sales of her books. That contribution to Julia's life and legacy is something that should give Julie a great sense of pride!

                1. re: FoodChic

                  I haven't read Julie & Julia. So............ for anyone who has................. please describe the references to Julia's life story in it. After watching Nora Ephron a few times, I concluded that the producers had the idea to blend the two separatre stories and she inserted Julia's portion into Powell's book story line. True or not???

                  1. re: Midlife

                    "After watching Nora Ephron a few times, I concluded that the producers had the idea to blend the two separatre stories and she inserted Julia's portion into Powell's book story line."

                    That's correct. Ephron looked at the blog but couldn't see how to make a movie out of it. Adding the Julia storyline was producer Amy Robinson's idea.



                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I totally interpreted the movie as Julia being Julie's idea of Julia, and I've seen two interviews with Meryl stating so much.



                      1. re: FoodChic

                        It's not reaally a big issue........ it was a movie, not a court trial............. but to say :"the depiction of Julia was Julie's idea of Julia…not necessarily factual Julia. While the Julia storyline was based off of "My Life in France" it still was Julie's perception of that story" would be a bit off. If her book didn't touch on Julia Child's life, it would appear that the movie was Nora Ephron's idea of Julie Powell's idea of Julia. Nit picky, maybe, but there's a difference.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          This is from the long Charlie Rose interview with Meryl Streep and Nora Ephron:

                          Charlie Rose [to Streep]: If you have someone so pronounced in size and personality, in voice -- distinct and different, easier to do, or harder to do? What were you trying to capture when you played her?

                          Meryl Streep: The outlines [of her character] were very familiar to people —
                          I knew that, and to me too, but in a way Danny Ackyrod’s version was even more vivid in our minds, and so it was already kind of already caricatured in your head.

                          I wanted to look at her in the idealized way that Julie did, because this is Julie’s *imagined* Julia. [Emphasis in Streep’s own voice.] In her head, [Julie] imagines this gal in Paris with her husband. And I think because it’s in this roseate hue, I just wanted to make it as real as it could possibly be, but I didn’t feel that I really had to adhere to every piece of research I’d done on Julia. I just wanted to make a human being that lived.

                          Ephron: There’s no question that the Julia we show in the movie was Julie Powell’s idea [of her].

                          Streep: You never really know the ins and outs of a personality…but to imagine that you know the inner life and conflicts and anxieties of a public person, it’s very very difficult, but it’s endlessly interesting. [end]

                          Hence this thread…

                          Also, in contrast to Ephron's statement, I’m not sure that, to viewers, the Julia in the movie is "obviously* the Julia of Julie's imagination.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            "Ephron: There’s no question that the Julia we show in the movie was Julie Powell’s idea [of her]."

                            I'd sagree with that statement. As I said, I didn't read Julie & Julia and I've only read a few dozen of ZJulie's first few months of blog posts, but I didn't pick up any sense thast Julie was expressing "an idea of" Julia at all. I HAVE seen and read lots of material about Julia Child, her husband and her life and the movie seemed (to me anyway) to depict her life in France as I had imagined it without ever having heard of Julie Powell. So......... for me, anwway, it didn't seem like Ephron was depicting any different or unique vision of Julia. It's curious that she and Streep made those comments, but maybe I've just never been exposed to another side of Julia Child. Maybe Julie Powell saw the same material aboiut Julia that I did????

                            1. re: Midlife

                              What a bizarre comment.

                              If the director said that they were depicting Julia from Julie's eyes and you never read Julie Powell's book, how can you dispute that that's what they did?

                              1. re: chicgail

                                I obviously can't dispute what Ephron says she was doing. What I said was that the depiction of Julia was the same as what I've gained from several other sources. It's certainly possible that Julie had the same perspective. rethinking a bit, I guess it didn't need to be unique,

                                But my real question was that I haven't seen anything yet that says that Julie Powell's book actually expressed a view of what Julia Child's life was like.I didn't pick up anything significant enough in the movie to suggest that Julie was projecting on anything other than the recipes. I've been hoping that someone who read Powell's book could shed some light on that aspect of it. I'm looking for help here, not an argument.

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  "Julie & Julia" was published in 2005. "My Life in France" didn't come out until 2006.

                                  Powell did mention reading a biography (Noel Riley Fitch's "Appetite for Life") in her blog, which is where the "hot as a stiff cock" line came from:


                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    FWIW, I read the book awhile ago but don't remember Julie ever talking about Julia's life or her philosophies in it, just her trying to replicate the recipes in her busy life, tiny kitchen. But, I assume Julie Powell worked with Nora and it could have developed outside of the book.

                                2. re: Midlife

                                  Midlife: >>So......... for me, anyway, it didn't seem like Ephron was depicting any different or unique vision of Julia.<<

                                  Yes, that's true for me, too.

                                  I've also read biographies of Julia, even have spoken with the authors. I've met Julia a few times (we have/had a mutual friend), and have spoken with her on the phone. So I knew Julia a tiny bit, and even I have the same idealized vision of Julia that Julie had.

                                  Her qualities in the movie -- joie de vivre, humor, expressiveness, and the ability to focus and apply herself -- are all real. The only thing that's missing in the movie is how direct Julia could be. Perhaps that shows up in her not understanding the blog or what Julie was doing. But I think that's more a function of Julia's age, her being slightly infirm, and this whole "dis" being reflected through Judith Jones, who had her own agenda.

                              2. re: Midlife

                                Well, if you have the star of the movie AND the director telling you that's what the storyline is then....I'd go with that.

                                Good thing it's not a trial, as the evidence would mean nothing.

                        2. re: FoodChic

                          "While the Julia storyline was based off of "My Life in France" it still was Julie's perception of that story."

                          I don't think that was Ephron's intent. The Julie segments felt to me like an interruption of the Julia story, not a prism through which it was filtered.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            During her interview with Charlie Rose, Ms. Streep said that she was not attempting a straightforward portrayal of Julia, but rather, Julie's perception of Julia.

                          2. re: FoodChic

                            Very well said. I read Julie's book, saw the movie, and am now reading Julia's memoir, "My Life in France", which has been very eye opening given all the strong opinions I've read here on this thread.
                            Her trip of "self-discovery" is not far different from Julie's, regardless of whether or not we "like" either of them.
                            There were some posts here saying that Julia was very upset that Julie had said that her roast chicken was better than Julia's. I just finished reading a passage in Julia's memoir where she states that some dish she had just finished learning how to make was better than any other she had ever eaten. Sounds awfully similar to me.
                            I wonder if perhaps Julia's feelings toward Julie and the blog were in part because she didn't understand the medium of blogging itself. After all, she was around 90 and in failing health at the time.
                            Regardless, Julie's blog and book and now the movie have certainly thrust Julia and her work back into the limelight.

                            1. re: FoodChic

                              Near the bottom of this thread on 8/12, FED posted this article (written by a friend of Julia) from the LA Times that clears up a lot of questions.


                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Yes, that certainly DOES clear up those questions. And it sounds just like Julia. And, years after having cooked "Mastering" myself, and now reading Julie's book, I have to say I agree with her.

                                    Russ Parsons is not only a very nice man, he is a class act. (and an excellent food writer, in his own right.)

                          3. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Ruth, I'd also like to add that in the movie, we meet Julie when she's in her late 20s and Julia when she is in her late 30s, a HUGE difference. Most 20-somethings are probably unsure, part of the "growing up" process. In my 20s, I was kind of last myself. By my late 30s, I was on my way to a Ph.D. (since attained). I agree with your assessment of the "nobody is a saint" idea--same thing I got out of the film. Anyway, I applaud Julie Powell for tackling the project and I enjoyed her blog as she was going through it. I must admit to being quite surprised at the level of vitriol leveled at Julie Powell. I suspect Julia Child is a quasi-religious figure to some (not to me).

                            Guess it's my turn to rant now--there was more pressure for Julie to come up with SOMETHING. In Julia Child's day, simply being an "embassy wife" was fine. Women like Julia were taken care of financially by husbands (and in Julia's case, some family money). Julie, on the other hand, clearly needed to work. And, unless you have young children, women are expected to have jobs/careers. To work AND pull off a project like cooking all of the MAOFC recipes is something I truly respect.

                            BTW, I've read My Life in France and Julia Child does a pretty good job of knocking herself off the sainthood pedestal. She is plenty judgemental but not very introspective in this memoir. True, the book is delightful--emphasis on "LIGHT". It's pleasant, in a disposable "beach book" sort of way.

                            1. re: nofunlatte

                              "I must admit to being quite surprised at the level of vitriol leveled at Julie Powell."

                              She became completely consumed by the project and totally unbearable. She was a complete loser. Totally insignificant. The project gave her a purpose and the adoration gave her reassurance. She got so wrapped up in it, she lost focus on what was important. Her marriage, her job, etc. That was the point of that portion of the movie. To show how she got so self absorbed but in the end she was able to realize that and grow from it.


                              1. re: Davwud

                                I get that. What I don't get is the "how dare she"? As if Julia Child was some sort of sacred cow that should not be mentioned by mere mortals. Julie, whether you like her or not (and I'm not a fan of the self-absorbed, self-consious blogger phenomenon myself), didn't start out to write a blog that would become a book and a movie. She started it for herself. It was her project and she had a right to do it any damn way she pleased. I can not like her or the way she did things and still acknowledge that there was nothing wrong with doing what she did. The people trashing her for daring to write about taking on Mastering the Art of French Cooking sound just like people bashing Julia for daring to write about French cooking for Americans. You're acting just like the woman at the Cordon Bleu who wouldn't give Julia her diploma simply because she resented the fact she was an American woman.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  "You're acting just like the woman at the Cordon Bleu who wouldn't give Julia her diploma simply because she resented the fact she was an American woman."
                                  How so?? I'm trying to give an even keeled opinion of her. She was unbearable but realized it in the end and grew from it. I bash her and yet praise her.

                                  I have not once commented on her attempt at the book. I've not opened the cover of it. On the surface, 1.5 recipes per day doesn't seem all that hard. Not having read the book, I can't comment on it.


                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Sorry. The "you" wasn't directed at "you" -- it was directed at the "you all" who are going on and on about how unworthy Julie was to have her name mentioned in the same breath as the sainted Julia.

                                2. re: Davwud

                                  I get that, although I did find Julie to be likeable. But even if one doesn't, I am still surprised by the level of meanness and nastiness (not by you, but by others in different threads). I agree, she did become singularly focused to the point of near marriage dissolution, but the issues I'm not understanding refer to the worship of Julia Child as some sort of spiritual figure. That one must have a reverence for her. I do understand having a culinary hero (or she-ro, in the case of Julia), but to get one's knickers in a twist when others don't share a reverence for Julia Child is just sad. I'm just waiting for someone to point out that Julia Child and Jesus Christ have the same initials! Or for someone to compare Julie Powell to Hitler (which, based on Godwin's law, signals the end of the thread) :)

                                  I am starting to wonder if there isn't a real age differential to these responses. Julie's readers and/or fans are probably considerably younger than those of Julia Child. Frankly, I think Julie probably introduced a whole host of a younger generation to Julia Child.

                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Well, if you read her blog, then the book, your probably got tired of the whiny, self-involved tone of her writing. She clearly undertook her year of "Cooking Julia" as a way to make money (She got that right.), not from a love of cooking, or Julia. She's had way more than her share of 15 minutes of fame, and I have no intention of seeing the movie. As far as I'm concerned, the Julie chick is history. (But what do you want to bet that she pops up next year, cooking from "The French Laundry" cookbook, or something similar?)

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      I disagree completely that Julie started the blog to make money. I read the blog almost from the beginning and it was clear that she was using it as a way of finding something to be passionate about. Certainly she could not have foreseen the book and movie deal. The book deal came close to the end of the project and the movie deal much later. The only money she made for most of the blog was towards the end when she set up a paypal account (I have a dim memory that one of the readers suggested it) to help with the cost of the food. The book makes clear that she was looking for a project to which she could and would committ herself.
                                      I think that it is refreshing that she didn't try to pretty herself up in the book. Based on my experience, being passionate about something does result in a certain self absortion that can ruin the rest of your life unless you learn some proprtion which I think that she did -or I hope that she did.
                                      By the way, I just say the movie last night and I really enjoyed it -even the Julie part. The Julia part was magical.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        Well, there's you and then there is the audience for her second book, who may or may not feel she's history; I guess she'll find out, as it has just been published in the UK, and will be published in the US in a few months (delayed so as not to step on movie-related sales of the first, according to news reports).

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          She said in an interview that her third book will probably be fiction. She seemed a bit sheepish about publishing two memoirs at such a young age.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            pikawicca, what are you silently gesturing at in history, somewhere I guess in the pages of the blog itself, that reveals that it was conceived in the name of financial gain? I can't tell if you really read the thing or not from the way you're speaking.

                                            I just have to laugh at the idea that someone in 2002 really believed that blogging her way through an old Julia Child classic was a one-way road to wealth-building. We all love Julia Child here, but that name at that time doesn't scream $$$$$, much less via the road Julie took. Which is not to say that Julia Child wasn't bankable - clearly she was, she's Julia Child, but not in a way thats just begging to be capitalized on. Who the hell in 2002, a dozen lifetimes ago in Internet years, would have the confidence in a gimmick like that? I can't even name another former nobody with a blog that has turned into a major book or film project. And I'm doubtful the money she eventually took from PayPal donations did much but subsidize her cooking costs. I'm sure there will be many blog-born media projects to come, but in 2002... well, if Julie had in mind this kind of success in the beginning color me impressed with her foresight into cultural trends. And it's not like it was an easy buck, either way.

                                            I don't like her writing much, either, but I don't see what you see. Comments like yours just seem like lame potshots to take at someone who lucked out who we just plain don't like for personal reasons. Yeah, it's too bad that if someone had to gain from everyone's beloved Julia it couldn't have been someone of a different character, perhaps, but that Julie did gain and bitched and moaned unattractively getting there doesn't mean she originally hopped on the Julia legacy for $$$$$. I mean the lady was still living at the time, to boot - and while perhaps Julie was so shrewd to be coasting on the inevitability of Julia's passing (and the subsequent rise of of her stock commercially), she also ran the risk of having the project loudly and openly condemned by Julia herself at the time. While that kind of negative attention does wonderful things financially for many situations, I think in this one it would have fatally damned it.

                                            1. re: Annie S.

                                              I'm with you here. The only blog I can even remember with any notoriety back in 2002 was by a woman who blogged about her job and then got fired because her boss read the blog. I think the best most could hope for at that time was that they'd get enough readers to put ads on the site and make a little bit of money. There was one guy in my grad program who received attention from the larger newspapers for his blog coverage of certain events, but I don't know if he's made any money off his blog.

                                            2. re: pikawicca

                                              ".. clearly undertook her year of 'Cooking Julia' as a way to make money ..."

                                              No, she had no idea that would happen. She was having a life crisis (partly due to polycystic ovary syndrome) and started the project to give herself some focus.

                                              It woud be a shame to skip the movie just because of the forgettable parts about Julie Powell.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            According to this interview with the Boston Globe, Judith Jones claims that she didn't know she'd been invited to dinner. (Recall, in the movie, the reporter from the CSM was acting as the go-between between Powell and Jones)... She says she didn't know how blogs were put together and had planned to discuss recipe rights. Ultimately, she cancelled because Julia had decided they didn't want anything to do with Powell's blog.


                                            I suppose this could be true, that Jones didn't realize Powell was planning on cooking her dinner, though, in the movie, Powell was blogging about the important dinner guest she was expecting. It seems like it was public knowledge. Too bad Jones didn't know...


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              That stuff was in the blog, but presumably Jones wasn't reading it daily:


                                              The post-cancellation meltdown was Ephron's invention: "We have a very lovely time. The bourguignon is fantastic, and the peas aren’t bad either. The dinner conversation is great."


                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Presumably Julie posted about it several times in her blog and Jones or anyone in her office had multiple opportunities to see it. However, it really was the early days of blogging, so, it's really possible Jones didn't see it.

                                                By the way, the post-cancellation melt-down scene in the movie was absolutely not plausible. There's no way that a husband who had been so supportive and patient up to that point would have chosen the moment of his wife's great public humiliation to call her to task about her selfish behavior. In fact, when he grabbed a plate and went into the kitchen to serve himself some dinner I cringed and whispered to my movie-going companion, "Don't...don't...don't"

                                                I'm sorry but no husband would dare under those circumstances serve himself a meal. No way.


                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                That just proves the theory that whatever Julia and Judith thought of the blog wasn't based on any kind of solid information. They were critical of the blog as they understood it or as it was represented to them, and not the blog as it actually was. Too bad, really, that they've been widely reported as disparaging something they apparently knew little about -- it actually reflects more badly on them (or really, their staff or whoever was responsible for bringing it to their attention) than on Julie.

                                                Notice, too, how Judith is trading on the film to plug both her previous book and her new one. I hope she takes Julie Powell to a nice dinner with all the extra book sales she's going to get from the free publicity of the movie.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  Judith Jones and Julia Child read the blog together.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Where does it say that? Judith lives in NY. Julia lived in California. I doubt they got together in front of a computer and read Julie's blog. I suspect what happened was that their assistants read it and printed out excerpts for them to read, and then they discussed it.

                                                    No matter how they read it, they obviously didn't understand either the medium or the intent of the project. As people have pointed out, in 2002 blogging was still a relatively obscure phenomenon, and Judith and Julia are both from a completely different era in publishing.

                                                    Finally, I think the claim that she didn't know she was invited for dinner is a bit disingenuous. She knew she was invited to Julie's house at dinner time. No matter what the time, when you are invited to someone's house, the likelihood is that there will be some kind of food involved, even if it's just snacks. The subject of the meeting makes it even more likely. I think Judith is doing some damage control after coming off badly in both the movie and in the early interviews.

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      It does say here that they read the blog together

                                                      but in the link I gave above from her Boston Globe she says that "Julia read the blog..."

                                                      So, the information is conflicting.

                                                      I agree with you that Jones' comment that she didn't know she was invited for dinner seems disingenuous. I would like to allow her the benefit of the doubt, but she was a big shot and Julie was a nobody, she had to have known that this was a big deal for Julie and even if all Julie did was clean her house, it would have been a big deal for her and that she probably would have gone to some trouble to clean her house, prepare dinner or snacks or whatever... Heck, just get home from work on time.


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        "The editor and author read the blog together" does not contradict "Julia read the blog."

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          However, it also doesn't contradict that they only read excerpts (she says they didn't read the whole thing), nor does it require that they read it off the computer, or even that they read it in the same room -- they could have read print outs of the blog "together" over the phone.

                                                          It really all comes down to what she means when she says the "read the blog" (whether they read it "together" is really irrelevant). From the misapprehensions about it they had, they clearly didn't read very much of it. It's kind of like making a judgment about Chowhound if you only read this thread.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            I don't think you have to read too many of Julie Powell's blog posts to get a sense of her style.

                                                            The main criticisms Jones mentioned were (1) that Powell uses a lot of four-letter words, which is true, and (2) that "She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned," which seems accurate to me. That's hardly surprising, given that Powell was working all day, cooking all evening, eating dinner, and dashing off her blog posts late at night or before leaving for work in the morning.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              Well, she said she wanted to talk to her about "recipe rights" and I'm not sure how that would have applied. I finally looked at the blog, and she did sometimes post the recipe, but she certainly paraphrased and added comments to the instructions. You can't copyright the ingredients of a recipe, only the instructions, as Judith must know. Mainly, I think the criticisms show that she didn't really understand what the point of the blog was, which was not to critique Julia's recipes, or really even to be about food, but to be about the journey.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                "What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt" recognizes in a disapproving manner that it was "about the journey."

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  I don't know that "doing it almost for the sake of a stunt" recognizes a journey at all. In my mind a journey and a stunt are not at all the same thing.

                                                                  None of us will ever know, of course, but Julia was of a very different generation and sensibility than Julie was. Perhaps an aging Julia was defensive of her own reputation and simply didn't understand or appreciate someone much younger, using a technology that was new even then, learning about herself and creating a new life through her cooking and her daily writing about it.

                                                                  1. re: chicgail


                                                                    Judith Jones expresses *her own* feelings about the blog, and there's not a single Julia quote in Jones's statement.

                                                                    Jones , “Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn’t attractive, to me or Julia. She didn’t want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt. She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned. Julia didn’t like what she called ‘the flimsies.’ She didn’t suffer fools, if you know what I mean.”

                                                                    All those are Jones' personal criticisms, not those of Julia's. Jones's comment that Julie was "doing it almost for the sake of a stunt," was Jones's opinion, and not that of Julia Child. As for the "flimsies" line, that was a general statement/sentiment of Julia applied to Julie by Jones. Julie's tenacity over time proved she wasn't a flimsy.

                                                                    It seems likely that both Julia Childs and Judith Jones did not evaluate the blog in its entirety or long enough for the blog's seriousness to appear, and are basing their comments on the early part of the blog. It also seems like Julia Childs didn't comprehend the nature of blogs in general and what Julie Powell was doing specifically.

                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    There is definitely a substantial difference (as you note) between the idea of "...doing it almost for sake of a stunt" (which comes across as pejorative and dismissive) instead of saying/writing that the undertaking was "about the journey."

                                                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                < It's kind of like making a judgment about Chowhound if you only read this thread.>

                                                                Right you are - in which case the judgment would be, "What a bunch of petty, nitpicking curmudgeons!" And, not to be left out of the pack, let me add that sometime in the past few years I saw or read something - can't recall WHAT - that made me think Judith Jones was a self-serving, elitist egotist. Her name receded into the junk drawer of my memory, but when it resurfaced in connection with the pre-movie buzz, my instinctive reaction was, metaphorically, an arched-back, bottlebrush-tailed hiss. So, based on nothing whatsoever but gut reaction, it wouldn't surprise me if Judith Jones was somehow spinning Julia into what is essentially her own resentful disapproval of Julie Powell.

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  "Julia was of a very different generation and sensibility than Julie was."

                                                                  Judith Jones said exactly that to Publishers Weekly.

                                                                  " Perhaps an aging Julia was defensive of her own reputation ..."

                                                                  Child's friend Russ Parsons touched on that in his LA Times article: "... even though Julia wore her icon status lightly, she protected it vigilantly. She never allowed her name to be used to promote a commercial product. In the case of the Julie/Julia blog, the line between affectionate hommage and commercial piggybacking is hazy and probably depends on which side of it you find yourself. But even more to the point is a deeper matter of character. While I don't think Julia was at all put off by Julie Powell's character's constant drinking and swearing, I do think her constant complaining was part of what Julia perceived as a lack of seriousness."


                                                                  "It's kind of like making a judgment about Chowhound if you only read this thread."

                                                                  Russ Parsons printed out the whole thing for Julia Child.

                                                                  It's not at all similar anyway, since Julie Powell's blog was a single author writing mostly about the same few subjects every day.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    The fact that he printed out the whole thing doesn't mean that she read the whole thing.

                                                                    I think the misunderstanding on Julia's part was her expectation of what Julie was being serious about. Julia, as far as I can tell, expected Julie to be serious about the food, while Julie's emphasis was on the project. I don't think you can honestly claim that someone who undertakes a commitment to cook 500+ recipes in a year and keeps that commitment is not "serious" about what she's doing. She just wasn't serious about the things that Julia thought she should be serious about.

                                                                    I think part of the problem is that the dismissal of the project by Julia is being expressed as disapproval of the project, when it actually may have been more along the lines of "this project isn't about really about the food, and since it isn't really about the food, I'm personally not interested in it." The woman was over 90 for goodness sake. She probably wasn't making the most nuanced statements!

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      She was sharper and more articulate at 90 than most people are at any age. "Well, she just doesn't seem very serious, does she? I worked very hard on that book. I tested and retested those recipes for eight years so that everybody could cook them. And many, many people have. I don't understand how she could have problems with them. She just must not be much of a cook."


                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Julia's quoted comments in the Russ Parsons LA Times article indicates that the blog was not dissed, but Julie's difficulties with the recipes was.

                                                                        It appears Julia responded somewhat defensively -- what Russ Parsons called "professional pride" -- when she indicated her efforts to make the recipes foolproof, and then dismissing Julie as not much of a cook when she had difficulties with them.

                                                                        In the year Julia turned 90, I sat and spoke with her twice. She truly had lost a good chunk of her mental and physical prowess by then. She was a touch dotty, and couldn't walk well at all. Still sharp but only in moments. This is nothing against Julia -- just a reflection of normal aging. I'm not saying that this is everyone's experience with Julia as she hit 90 and beyond -- each of us who saw and spoke with her may have had a different impression. Even with her rather obvious decline, i was still thrilled to be around her.

                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          I read that quote as an implicit criticism of the blog: why should anyone read what a not-very-serious not-much-of-a-cook writes about cooking?

                                                                          That does suggest Child missed the humor, which I'm pretty sure was the main draw for Powell's several thousand regular readers.

                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          First, unless you, like Maria Lorraine, spoke to Julia at that time, you have no idea how sharp and articulate she was.

                                                                          Second, the idea that no one *today* would have trouble with the recipes in that book shows that she wasn't in touch with the level of skill of the *average* Gen Xer working full time and cooking in a tiny apartment.

                                                                          But finally, this does not contradict what I said: Julia expected the blog to be about serious cooking. It wasn't. She criticized Julie for not being much of a cook, but Julie never claimed to be one. The point Julia seemed to be missing was that both her book and the blog were about the process of "mastering" something. If you already know how to do it, then you don't need to "master" it, do you?

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            I don't think Julia Child missed the point of what Julie Powell was trying to do, given that Powell explains what she's up to in her first post. Child just didn't care for the results.

                                                                            I can imagine, for example, what she thought of Powell's sixth post:


                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Not trying to debate or argue here, and don't wish to engage that in others:

                                                                              As to what Julia really thought about the blog, the truth is elusive. Even the one Julia comment we're discussing in these last few quotes can be interpreted differently by different individuals. Factor in the agendas of other people -- Judith Jones, perhaps foremost, our own agenda and frame of reference, and Julia's take on the blog is still unknown.

                                                                              As to whether or not she liked the blog, we can't know that if the only actual quote of Julia's relates to Julie's difficulties with the recipes.

                                                                              As to Child's bewilderment at Julie's difficulties with the recipes, I agree with
                                                                              Ruth and her comment that that reflects Julia "wasn't in touch with the level of skill of the *average* Gen Xer working full time and cooking in a tiny apartment."

                                                                              The other question is the timing of Julia's comments. When did she read Russ Parson's printout of the blog? Early on, when Julie was just finding her way? Or later in the year, when Powell had proved her tenacity, seriousness, and growing prowess as a cook? Parsons doesn't say, though from his wording, I suspect the printout was of the early part of the blog.

                                                                              Also, was Julia's dismissal also related to the "diary" aspect of the blog? Was that too much infomation unrelated to cooking? Did she find the degree of self-disclosure annoying or gratuitous? Again, we cannot know.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                What's wrong with that post? She tried a JC recipe and the result wasn't perfect (neither was JC's the first time, I'll wager), but it tasted good. She expanded her horizons by eating something she'd never eaten before. She said "I don't know if I'm going to manage this thing, but I feel more than ever that it's something worth trying."

                                                                                It seems to me that Julia would have agreed with the rant about Raw Food.

                                                                                My point is that Julia's disapproval of the blog seems to be based on her notion that Julie should have started from the place where she eventually ended up, i.e. a "serious" person and accomplished cook. She doesn't seem to have any sympathy for the fact that we all (even Julia) have to start somewhere. Again, this may be a factor of her not completely understanding the "real time" nature of blogging that allows people to publish *during* the process instead of at the end, with the wisdom of hindsight. I don't consider a critique valid unless it's based on whether or not something accomplishes its intended goals, rather than some arbitrary goals set by the critic.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  "My point is that Julia's disapproval of the blog seems to be based on her notion that Julie should have started from the place where she eventually ended up, i.e. a "serious" person and accomplished cook. She doesn't seem to have any sympathy for the fact that we all (even Julia) have to start somewhere."
                                                                                  I think you're misinterpreting the world "serious" here. it's different from "expert". I can say with some confidence that Julia meant it in the way of someone approaching a subject from a serious point of view, rather than as a lark or as some goofy challenge. I don't think that began to show up in Julie Powell's blog until very close to the end, when she began to realize that she had indeed learned quite a lot during the cooking.

                                                                                  1. re: FED

                                                                                    I can see that interpretation. However, even from that perspective, I don't think it was reasonable for Julia to deem Julie "not serious" simply because she didn't write about her experience the way (tone, language) Julia thought she should. The commitment to take on a project of that magnitude and follow it through to the extent that Julie had by the time Julia became aware of the blog speaks for itself as to its seriousness.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      Powell was more serious about keeping to the arbitrary schedule she set for her blog was than she was about cooking the recipes as written. She frequently cut corners and made substitutions.

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        Julia made that comment and asked him to keep it private though. He only now is coming out with what she said to clear up confusions. I think many people make comments that they wouldn't intend for the public to hear because people are so good at misinterpreting.

                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    I think her post is lovely and is a clear demonstration of a 21st Century Gen Xer developing both her cooking skills and her appreciation for real, fine, homemade food. Some things work. Some don't, but this is a committed human being who is up to something.

                                                                                    Not Julia Child. Not the 1940s or the 1950s. But certainly, nothing intrinsically offensive here.

                                                                                    So I have to say, I can't imagine what you mean, Robert, when you say "I can imagine, for example, what she thought of Powell's sixth post:."

                                                                          2. re: greygarious

                                                                            GG - that's exactly what my reaction was and what I keep thinking.

                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                              uh, you mean the fact that people who have no actual knowledge of any of the events involved will spend two weeks arguing about it, oftentimes ascribing the most awful motives to people they have never even met, much less talked to?

                                                                          3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            They communicate very different levels of involvement on the part of Judith Jones. The messages are very different.


                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        The link above indicates that Russ Parsons (of the LA Times) printed out the blog (or at least a good part of it) and took it to Julia to read.

                                                                2. re: missclaudy

                                                                  What foolishness! How is this any different from my own daughters changing my "perfect" recipes, developed over decades, that they loved and begged for? They even admit to the changes and ask if I think that they've "improved" them. No, I usually don't, but they're of a different generation with different tastes. Sometimes they're not willing to spend two days doing it the long - a.k.a. the "right" way - so they take shortcuts, or whatever. And then I'll hear them say "it's not as good as my Mom's but everybody loved it..."

                                                                  I change the "sainted" Julia's recipes too. To my New Orleans Creole palate, some of them seem a little bland. A bit of Tabasco never hurts. I add a little more, a little less of something or other. Use the recipes as guidelines and springboards. Heck, Julia "developed" those recipes herself, didn't she?
                                                                  Cookbooks aren't Bibles. Food lives, breathes, and changes in the kitchens of cooks from Paris to Queens, New Orleans to Washington DC.

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    If you commit to cooking Julia Child's recipes, The Deal is doing it faithfully, especially if the whole point is to tell the world you are doing it . Anyone can cook from this book and make the recipes her own, just don't bill it as cooking JC's recipes.IT is VERY hard work, it is not Cajun or Thai, it is classic French ! The idea of undertaking these complicated recipes with a deadline, while working full time is silly idea in the first place, it turns the challange into a breathless marathon.
                                                                    I am all for changing recipes, I do it everyday and love doing it, I would never under take Julia's recipes, I don't have the patience and can't eat that much butter. I pour hot sauce and lime juice over alot of what I cook but I would do that NEVER add it to soles meuniere .

                                                                    Actually, I do consider this cookbook to be a bible.

                                                                    1. re: missclaudy

                                                                      But she did not commit to faithfulness. You are reading too much into this. The original blog was an impulsive, compulsive leap off a cliff. A lot of the appeal for me at least was the improvising that mirrors what most of us encounter (oh shit, who finished the rum? nobody has fresh tarragon!). On the whole the message was yes, this is worth doing, you can do it, it's mostly delicious but not always. When she uses canned stock or substitutes an ingredient, she says so. As the blog went on and gained some readership and $ support, and she got better at technique (which was after all the point) she slacked off less. But there was never a promise not to deviate. I doubt she had thought the issues through when she started it. I think her movie character got twinkified but that's Hollywood.

                                                                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                        I didn't know that she had used canned stocks. She has not mastered the art of French cooking at all now that I know this. Couldn't tolerate the book or blog, so wasn't aware of this. Home made, long simmered, reduced stocks are are the most important ingredient in French sauces. .Anyone who ate one of her sauced dishes or stews requiring stock didn't truly experience the soulful,deep deliciousness of this food. She could never have completed the job in a year if she had been making her own stock.

                                                                        In the film Simca asks Julia "What eeez Marshmallow fluff (while reading an American cook book). Maybe Julie could have substituded MF for cream in the dessert recipes too, or margarine for butter if she wasn't going to follow the recipes faithfully. Next time she should cook through a Betty Crocker cookbook (fine books indeed, I own several) with magical fairies flying around the kitchen, whisking and deboning. I bet Disney would love it !

                                                                        1. re: missclaudy

                                                                          I'd bet my lunch money that Julia Child herself cheated every now and then.
                                                                          Sometimes homemade stock is critical, but other times a 1/4 cup of canned is better than 1/4 cup of water. It's not essential to the overall outcome of the dish.
                                                                          Julie Powell was making supper for her husband and herself after a day at the office. A little perspective is in order. They were eating better than most.

                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            That's not what I learned in 2 years of cooking school.I studied with a woman chef who spent a year in a tiny kitchen in France working with men who hated her being there. I know I am a pain,but I am also a purist, just my way of looking at this silly thing. She should have made tons of stock and frozen it before she started out, she didn't do her homework.

                                                                            I just learned that Julia wrote in Mastering,that you can you can use a drop of canned stock here and there. So then according to my previous pronouncements, and because SHE said it I will back down a bit here.

                                                                            Signing off on this (sorry if I irritated anyone too much) as it is starting to feel like what I imagine writing a blog might be like (anything but that !). Love to everyone and BON APPETIT !

                                                                            1. re: missclaudy

                                                                              shoulda, woulda, coulda....
                                                                              That's not what Julie Powell set out to do. She's not you, and doesn't have your exacting standards. But then, most people don't. Forgive them, please.

                                                                              Tiny freezers, a bunch of small kids, long work hours. Sometimes people do have to cut some corners. Sometimes they just aren't that interested in details that sound picky when they first start cooking. Maybe they'll get hooked and change. Maybe not. But cut them some slack, please.

                                                                              If this blog/book/movie gets a lot of younger people cooking real food, however flawed it might be when they start from your perspective, it's still a step in the right direction.

                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                Not to mention that it was Julie Powell's blog and Julie Powell's project, which means that Julie Powell gets to establish her own rules. If it's not purist enough for some, then those folks are free to start their own blog.

                                                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                  Exactly. I've mentioned this on other threads - I loved reading Julie's blog and admired her tenacity and enjoyed her blow by blow accounts of the project, no matter how filled with four letter words. I've mentioned this elsewhere as well, but in Mastering the Art, JC included recipes for doctoring up purchased stock (presumably for those in the servantless kitchen who just didn't have time to make their own stock) so that it could then be incorporated into the recipes.

                                                                              2. re: missclaudy

                                                                                I never use canned stock ...

                                                                                ... because there isn't any available here. I would now and then if there were.

                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  Same here, never bought canned stock or cartons, I'll go without or make my own.

                                                                        2. re: missclaudy

                                                                          Julie Powell did not set out to do this as you would.
                                                                          Neither do I when I undertake the recipes, butter and everything. More than 40 years ago, I used Julia's book for what the title said: to Master the Art, so I did the recipes precisely as directed, getting them right before I made changes.
                                                                          I still use those books. Frequently. They're textbooks. But they're not bibles.
                                                                          Yet you call them bibles at the same time that you say that you "would never under take Julia's recipes...[because you] don't have the patience and can't eat that much butter."
                                                                          Julie Powell did the best she could, which got better as time went on. At least she dove right in.

                                                                          BTW, Cajun and Creole are two different things. Classic Creole is based on French haute cuisine so I was right at home with Julia and she improved my Creole cooking technique.
                                                                          It just took me years to do what Julie Powell tried to do in one.
                                                                          But she is who she is, and she's not the first person who tried to "speed-read" their way to knowledge.
                                                                          Everyone does things in their own way, and she got a lot of people on board who might never have bothered with Julia Child.

                                                                    2. If these were Child's private sentiments, I'll bet she would have been aghast that her publicist shared them with Publisher's Weekly (or anyone else.)


                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        I really don't mean to nitpick, but it was Julia's editor, Judith Jones, who made those comments to Publishers Weekly and if you read the article


                                                                        you can see pretty clearly that these are Judith's thoughts about the blog as well as Julia's. And actually, I think "She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned" is a valid criticism.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          Whoops! Editor, not publicist, thanks for the correction (not nitpick!) Not sure where that came from.

                                                                          And, no, I didn't read the article (as you can tell), just the quote in the OP. I'm already tired of hearing about this movie and it's only been out a weekend. I probably won't see it and will certainly never buy the book or read the blog.

                                                                          But, I get irritated when people pass along other people's private thoughts. Private thoughts should be kept that way. Pass along your own, by all means, but own them.


                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                            I guess, the more that I think about it (now that I've had my afternoon nap), the more I think that if anyone's entitled to speak for Julia Child, I guess it would be her editor. I know Judith Jones is very well-respected.

                                                                            I guess, though, that I don't really see the point in speaking out so negatively now when they bit their tongues before. I suppose they just had no idea it would come to this. It just seems a bit like closing the barn door after the horse and I'm not sure what the point is.

                                                                            Anyway, I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm not a particular fan of either Julia or Julie. I know the former is greatly revered. Even though she did not have a direct influence on me, that I probably owe her a debt of gratitude for the influence she had on those who had influence on me. I wish I'd done COTM when Child was up.


                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              Julia might have bitten her tongue, but I don't think Judith Jones did. This is definitely not the first time I've heard this. Maybe it was just inside publishing gossip rather than some specific comments that made it into print; I no longer recall. But Judith's disdain for what she clearly saw as a self-promotional stunt has been out there since the blog became popular, long before the book was published.

                                                                              I'm sure you're absolutely right that very few people thought it would ever come to this, and some seem to find it a bit galling--whatever their reasons. Remember the subtitle of the book? "My Year of Cooking Dangerously"? I must say, if I were Julia's editor I'd be rather galled as well.

                                                                              Maybe it's time for me to take a nap. Or have a martini.

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                Interesting that this was floating out there before. I hate to ask, but, how is this "stunt" any different than the person whose cooking from the French Laundry book or the 360 crockpot lady? I mean, isn't this pretty typical blog fodder?

                                                                                I fully support the idea of a nap, or a martini or both!


                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  Not here to defend Judith Jones (only met her once) and certainly not here to argue with you TDQ. I've never seen either of those blogs, but weren't they begun subsequent to The Julia Project?

                                                                                  Perhaps a lot depends on how you felt about Julie Powell's blog when first encountered. I wasn't enamored. Didn't much care for the book either. I just don't think she's a good writer and she didn't bring any added value to the book she was writing about.

                                                                                  Martini is in hand. Guess that means it's time to stop posting.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Oh, I wasn't arguing (in my most recent reply), those were sincere questions. Thanks for that.


                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Perhaps when Julie Powell began her project and then started to blog about it, she had no intent that it be anything other than a simple sharing of her ideas about what she was doing. There are thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of food blogs, and this one just caught the attention, and then the imagination, of a lot of people.
                                                                                  Then it mushroomed.
                                                                                  Maybe her followers shared some sense of her being stuck in a small apartment and cooking for therapy, attacking a project, and sticking to it.
                                                                                  Who really knows why some things take off on the internet or YouTube and other things don't?
                                                                                  If you figure it out, you can get really rich.

                                                                                  There are a number of blogs that started out with only a few followers that became popular and then the bloggers were offered book deals.
                                                                                  Julie Powell was OFFERED a publishing deal. She didn't seek it out.
                                                                                  Would YOU turn it down? Say you didn't want the money from publication of a book about work you were proud of? Tell the publisher what the subtitle of the book should be? First time authors don't usually have that kind of power.

                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                    Powell got a six-figure advance. You better bet she had some input into what the subtitle ought to be.

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      She was a publishing "virgin," dealing with high powered editors at a big publishing house. "Input" is a long-way from winning the battle with the marketing types who design the cover art and promotional packaging.
                                                                                      I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was probably in a little over her head when she got caught in the wave.

                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                        She was in over her head at the git go not to have choosen a less important cookbook. But then the project would have been alot less sexy, I know, I know.

                                                                                        1. re: missclaudy

                                                                                          A friend of mine always says, "Any job you're qualified for isn't any fun."
                                                                                          She picked a challenging book, but lots of people learned to cook from Mastering the Art. She did in the end. It improved her as a person as well.

                                                                                          I think that many people are being pretty harsh on someone who may never have intended a personal project to become so public.

                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                            I think she had fun writing,not cooking. That's the way the movie looked, anyway.

                                                                                            1. re: missclaudy

                                                                                              I haven't seen the movie yet, but it sounds as though you're right. The cooking was a vehicle. She had to fix food anyway so she used that as a outlet for her angst.
                                                                                              Davwud said above that her role in the movie was, "...To show how she got so self absorbed but in the end she was able to realize that and grow from it."
                                                                                              Don't a lot of people use cooking as therapy? She may not have realized she was cooking and journaling that way.

                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                    So what if it was a self-promotional stunt? What skin is that off Judith Jones's nose? Julia Child was, by her own choice, a public figure, who I'm sure did lots of self-promotion in her day. I don't see how Julie's blog affected Julia in any way. And the fact is that Julie Powell, while she may have been promoting herself, also promoted Julia Child to a whole bunch of people who for one reason or another weren't that familiar with her.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      I don't read it that Julia Child or Judith Jones were insulting or putting down Julie Powell in any way. They, and I'll group them together because I can't differentiate what came from Julia and what came from Judith, were merely stating an observation:
                                                                                      1. Julie is not a serious cook. True as far as I can tell, but "serious" is a subjective term.
                                                                                      2. Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn't attractive. That definitely sounds like something Julia Child would say. There persist a lot of complete myths about Julia, including the very prevalent notion that she paraded around the kitchen drinking and swearing like a sailor. This is absolutely false. She never drank while cooking that I saw (maybe she took a sip when Jacques Pepin poured it for her, but that's it). And she never swore in the kitchen.

                                                                                      The reality is that for a lot of people, their introduction to Julia Child will be through Julie Powell. They were just setting the record straight that Julia wasn't endorsing Julie. She wasn't big on endorsements anyway.

                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Are we sure Judith Jones is relating Julia Child's words in the Publishers Weekly article? How much of the quoted words are actually Judith's?

                                                                                      If you recall in the movie, the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking was written for the "servantless" American cook who wished to cook French food.

                                                                                      Julie certainly fits that description.

                                                                                      If Julia did indeed intially dismiss Julie as a "flimsie" and as not a "serious cook," my belief is that Julia would have thought otherwise had she had the chance to read the blog when it was further along and revealed Julie's level of effort and commitment.

                                                                                      But did she? Julia was fairly infirm even when Julie began her blog.

                                                                                      And what does "serious cook" mean in light of Julia's goal of writing a book, at least in part, for the non-serious American cook who wanted to cook French food but didn't have the expertise?

                                                                                      So there a contradiction somewhere. Is Judith the source of this?

                                                                                      I remember when I told Julia (I knew her slightly) my story of using MTAOFC when I lived in Paris in the late 70s and was attempting to learn French cooking, and that I still loved the book. Her response, "Does anybody ever read that thing anymore?"

                                                                                      Which is why, after having had a discussion with Julia herself about the book, I think she would have gotten a kick out of Julie's blog as it gained momentum and resonance.

                                                                                      I also sense Julia would have immediately recognized the marketing potential for the blog -- that it could introduce a whole new generation to MTAOFC.

                                                                                      Julia was irreverent, expressive, direct and very funny. She did really listen to you when you talked to her. I saw this time and time again. I can't imagine Julia bad-mouthing anyone who loved her book to the degree that Julie did.


                                                                              2. I may regret getting into this discussion, but my wife and I saw the movie last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. The audience was older (50+) mostly, and there was constant laughter throughout and applause at the end.

                                                                                I must admit that I wondered why in the world they needed to include a blogger's story in a movie about the iconic Julia Child. I had it wrong. After seeing Nora Ephron interviewed a number of times about the movie, it seems clear that the project came to her that way.......... as a story about Julie Powell (based on her book and NOT a story about Julia Child) and I would guess that the people behind it felt it needed the 'real deal' in it to make it work. They certainly got that with Meryl Streep.

                                                                                As to some of the comments made here so far, I am a huge Julia Child fan and would have enjoyed a whole movie just about her life, but then I'm 'older' and not the one putting up the money for the movie.

                                                                                It's always interesting to see how people come away from anything with their own take on it. Jones'did say (in the quote from Publishers weekly) that Julie "would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned". If you saw the movie, the Julie part contained countless fawnings over the food, from "yum"s to the husband and dinner guests remarking on how delicious it was................. so maybe the blog didn't give it enough respect but the movie surely did.

                                                                                I was never aware of the blog until now, so I have no basis for judging the 'feel' of it with regard to Julia and her work. But........... my opinion is that the movie showed total reverence for it. The blog was portrayed as a personal catharsis for Julie, not as an homage to Julia Child (which probably offends some), and that seems to have been true, and probably why Julia wouldn't embrace it as a serious undertaking. But... so what?

                                                                                The movie was fun. Streep was amazing (she makes it seem so easy that people now get bored with her work?). Tucci was the pro he always has been, and Amy Adams was perfect in the part.

                                                                                Movies are meant to entertain! Just go and enjoy!

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                  The movie has its flaws, but I enjoyed it. I didn't even find the Julie part as annoying as I thought I might. I find it hard to see how a movie about how Julia Child inspired this woman to change her life can be disrespectful of Julia. How much more respect can you give a person than to say that about them?

                                                                                  Streep was perfect. From the trailers it looked like she was maybe doing an impression (albeit a good one) of Julia, but after a few minutes you realize that she really has become Julia. I think, actually, that Julia Child and Meryl Streep are a lot alike: both passionate devoted to their craft, both very at home in their own skins, both irreverent, both with a lot of joie de vivre. Stanley Tucci was marvelous and made their relationship so real (and in turn, that made the characters more real).

                                                                                  The main flaw of the movie was that it didn't really have a plot in a dramatic sense, so the conflict and resolution didn't have a lot of emotional weight, but then, that's real life.

                                                                                  BTW, there was one moment when I thought "Oh, that's so Chowhound!": when Julia is rhapsodizing over a dish and Paul takes a bite and is sort of ... unexcited. And you can see her disappointment that her beloved husband can't share in her thrill. I think all of us feel that sometimes with someone we love who just doesn't understand being a chowhound.

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    Ruth, great fan of yours...

                                                                                    But I think the movie had a classic plot -- the undertaking of a defined goal and the finishing of that goal. The structure of the movie is that classic climb to the mountain top, marked by both joys and setbacks along the way, and finally triumph upon reaching the summit. Moreover, this plot unfolds for each of the women along parallel tracks. That's a lovely touch, and leads to so many interesting dissolves and segues as the film cuts back and forth between the two households. There is the brilliant segue from Julia's bed to Julie's bed, and the introduction of Judith Jones to Julia, and then the phone call requesting a visit from Judith Jones to Julie, the reason for the two batches of boeuf bourgignonne. There are more of these parallelisms between households -- some of them are subtle -- and the movie could be watched for the beauty of them alone. So yes, there is both plot and a sophisticated structure.

                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                      A classic dramatic plot has a conflict and a resolution. It either has to be some kind of emotional conflict or some kind protagonist/antagonist relationship. In this case, there weren't an antagonists, and the emotional conflict was pretty trivial. I enjoyed the movie on a scene-to-scene basis, but it wasn't a compelling story. But as I said, that's life. The difference between life and art is that life doesn't follow the structural principles of art.

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        I haven't yet seen Julie & Julia, but based on what I've read, the conflict in the film is Woman vs. Self: a challenge set up between the protagonist and the protagonist. Julia sets out to write Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie sets out to cook its 500+ recipes. Obstacles ensue.

                                                                                        Whether this worked for you or not is another story, of course, and it may well have seemed trivial. But an antagonist need not be animate. Any movie in which the hero tackles alcoholism, or commitment issues, or what have you, is another example of this type of conflict.

                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                          I think you're right on target. Julie was a woman who admitted she could never follow through with much of anything- she didn't finish her book or anything else she started. Julie was her own antagonist and this is a common theme in many stories.

                                                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                                                            Right. I understood what the conflicts were. But they were pretty trivial in that there were no consequences for failure. I suppose you could argue that Julie might lose her husband, but like everything about Julie, their marital problems seemed pretty superficial and there wasn't much correlation between the success of her marriage and the success of her project. And I guess I never bought that Julie had really learned or changed in any significant way. She was a shallow, self-absorbed failure and she became a shallow, self-absorbed success -- that's an external change, not an internal one.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                              It's still a classic story, but probably more along the lines of a coming of age piece in the young adult genre. There, you have so many stories about young adults becoming so singly focused on one goal that doesn't really make a huge difference in the overall scheme of things, but the protagonist doesn't necessarily realize it and causes a lot of collateral damage along the way. Not every book/movie has to end with the protagonist having some great revelation and making a life change. I tend to like the stories that are a bit more true to life. It's possible that Julie did change after the end of the story, but we don't really know from what was presented in the movie.

                                                                                              1. re: queencru

                                                                                                Isn't that what I said? The stories that were "true to life" often didn't have traditional dramatic plots. That doesn't mean they aren't enjoyable. I just felt that without a strong plot that the movie was more of a collection of scenes than a cohesive story that was "about" something.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  Just because it is more realistic doesn't mean it doesn't follow a traditional plot. In Man vs. Self, the protagonist usually achieves some goal after overcoming obstacles. This was just a case where the obstacles and outcome just seemed to be trivial when compared to Julia's story. Julia is a larger-than-life figure, while Julie is just an average person attempting to achieve lesser goals. Not every traditional plot is going to have a protagonist like Julia.

                                                                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                                                                    Actually, I thought Julia had even less at stake. At least she wasn't going to lose her job or her husband if things didn't work out. Not getting published would have been disappointing, but not catastrophic.

                                                                                                    Some people have described the movie as being about the women finding themselves through cooking. My feeling was that Julia didn't need to find herself -- she wasn't lost, thankyouverymuch -- and Julie found herself only very superficially, if at all. Thus, if that was really the "plot" of the movie, then I think it was pretty flimsy.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                      Julia's story was classic Man vs. Society. She was a woman trying to succeed in a man's world. I come from a family where quite a few women from Julia's generation pursued careers in male dominated fields, and the obstacles they had to overcome were just astounding. While no, it would not have been catastrophic for Julia to be a housewife with no children, she expressed early on in the movie that she wanted to have some greater purpose than that.

                                                                                2. I believe what Julia objected to was Julie's oh-so-2002 mastery of snark, profanity and knowitallism that infected the blogosphere even worse back then than today.

                                                                                  I read the original blog a few times when it started to get popular. It was always Oh-So-Salon, which is to say anomic, self-absorbed (acknowledged later in the blog, I know) and so so so self-satisfied. She reveled in her own not really trying.

                                                                                  This film is the "Reality Bites" of the aughts.

                                                                                  I'd have preferred a pure Julia biopic (which this was, very nearly), now unlikely for many years.

                                                                                  That being said, I saw the movie today and had a great time, mostly because of the performances of Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Jane Lynch, Linda Edmond and Chris Messina. Amy Adams -- not my thing.

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                    But Amy Adams is playing an unlikeable character. That's the point of this movie. Julie starts out as what you've described. She's insecure, she's shy, she's the one who always gets stepped on. She took on the task without ever thinking it through and then gets caught up in her own self importance. Did she really think that people couldn't go on with their lives if she didn't cook/blog?? Yes, she probably did. That's the point. She understands that in the end. She becomes aware of what she was and what she'd become. She grows from it. She learned to cook and what's more, she grew up.


                                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                                      Fair point -- I hadn't thought of it that way. Maybe it's really the character more than the actor.

                                                                                      1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                        I would guess that is the case. Have you seen her in anything else? She was fantastic in Doubt, fun in Enchanted and she made Night at the Museum 2 bearable as Amelia Earhart. In fact, part of me wishes it were her playing Amelia instead of Hillary Swank (though I'm sure Swank will do great) in the Earhart biopic being made.

                                                                                        1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                          Enchanted was excellent. Have you seen June Bug? I kept hearing how excellent it was when it came out but still haven't seen it.

                                                                                          1. re: DishDelish

                                                                                            It is very good. She is very talented.

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                              I'm going to have to rent it soon. =)

                                                                                      2. re: Davwud

                                                                                        Did you get the feeling she grew as a person after doing it? I didn't follow her blog but read the book and she seemed the same at the end. I wondered when her husband was going to leave her.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          My feeling is those who don't grow as a person, don't realize what is going on around them. It's the old adage, until you admit you have a problem, there's no hope for you.
                                                                                          Now, I'm taking it as a leap of faith that when she realized how self absorbed she'd become, she was able to make the necessary changes. They touch on it but don't really explain how Julie really turned out.


                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                            You're an optimist--I like that in a person. :-) Come to think of it, in hindsight, I was pretty self absorbed in my 20's, too. Thankfully, it was pre-internet days so I couldn't blog about it for the world to see.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                              I wasn't able to achieve self improvement until I understood why I was what I was.


                                                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                Lovely. Just lovely. I love a little life philosophy with my chow talk.

                                                                                      3. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                        See... and I think a true biopic is MORE possible because of Julie's blog/book/movie.

                                                                                        Julia was an icon, but the revitalization of her "brand" right now is all due to Julie. There were two PBS specials on the week the movie premiered. Do you think that would have happened if Julie never blogged?

                                                                                        They've reissued MTAFC... would that have happened?

                                                                                        Whatever Julia and Judith think/thought of Julie (and FWIW I'm not a big fan of Julie's writing... I found the book hard to get through)... but whatever any of us thinks, she's given Julia an audience that might not have found her.

                                                                                        I think that's great.

                                                                                        1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                                          "They've reissued MTAFC... would that have happened?"

                                                                                          MtAoFC has never gone out of print. 25,000 copies were sold last year.

                                                                                          They put out a new edition to tie in with the movie, and printed 225,000 copies to meet anticipated demand.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            That's what I meant by "reissued"...

                                                                                            I don't think 225,000 copies of the book would be sold this year if Julie had never taken on the book in her blog.

                                                                                            So however anyone... Julia, Judith or others feel about Julie and the blog and her seriousness as a cook... you have to admit that it has caused a resurged interest in Julia Child and her amazing tome.

                                                                                      4. I think it is hilarious how worked up people are getting over the Julie Powell blog. Not nearly as hilarious, however, as the blog was. Did anyone read it? It was funny stuff. Of course, I don't take myself so seriously nor do I put anyone on a pedestal (not that I don't absolutely adore Julia Child). I also recall reading of the hours and hours she spent cooking and shopping for the precise ingredients required in the recipe.

                                                                                        And I'm pretty sure that Julie Powell DID start the blog hoping for a book deal. She mentioned it pretty early on. Of course to that I say "so what?" She won the lottery--enough said.