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Apr 6, 2010 11:29 PM

Julie and Julia

I am sad that it seems to be missed that there is more than just cooking that comes with Julia Child. It is a rare gift to be able to inspire. I am sorry that Julia and her many fans did not see that she must have inspired Julie Powell. It is just as tough in many ways now as it was back in Julia's times. Yes, we could use a little refining at times as people. We have become a bit vulgar as a society but underneath it all there are a lot of good people in need of the wisdom and encouragement that Julia Child provided. I was sad that the two never met. One starting out and the other coming to the end of her days.

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  1. Nice words, and just think of how Julia is able to transcend time and inspire Julie, and others, past her time here on earth.
    Julia, her culinary skill and inspiration, are still with us in many, many ways.

    1. "Publisher's Weekly spoke to Judith Jones, Senior Editor and Vice President at Alfred A. Knopf, and Julia Child's editor and confidante, who shared her recollection of Child's feelings on Julie Powell's blog:

      Jones says Child did not approve of Powell’s cook-every-recipe-in-one-year project. The editor and author read Powell’s blog together (Julie and Julia was published a year after Child’s 2004 death). “Julia said, ‘I don’t think she’s a serious cook.’ ” Jones thinks there was a generational difference between Powell and Child. “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.”"

      19 Replies
      1. re: ferret

        I tend to agree with Julia...from what I've read, I really don't take Julie Powell very seriosuly either. I see her as a FN wannabe.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          HA.....A Food Network wanna be she is not. As clean cut and sterilized as the food network is?

          I personally adore the real her, which is as far from the Amy Adams version as you can get. Yes, she is a brash young lady but I enjoy people that lack that filter. I can see where people may not like that about her, but they also would not like me too.

          She is however very humble, approachable and easy to talk to... a quality I find refreshing.

          1. re: JanPrimus

            I like her in person much more than her writing. The movie portrayed her as a writer struggling to find her voice, but in both the blog and the book, SHE says she was trying to make it as an actress. Which may account for the poor writing (imho) skills.

            1. re: JanPrimus

              I don't understand championing people without "that filter." Yes, the ability to be candid and honest is a quality to be admired, but "that filter" exists so you don't end up treating people (or your spouse) like crap, which the author seems to do quite frequently.

              Being honest and forthright doesn't give anyone the excuse to be selfish and childish with their words just because they don't want to put in any effort to think of other people.

              1. re: stet

                Yet the last thing I heard from her is this.....

                "I never say corny crap like this, but I was just thinking: perhaps my greatest talent is that, with one or two notable exceptions, I have always surrounded myself with kind, brilliant, strong men. So to all my friends, family, and of course especially my dear husband, all my thanks."

                I guess I am defending her more than her body of work. She reminds me alot of myself and hate to see her as a person knocked down. I personally enjoy her day to day, more than what most poeple know of her based off of a book or a movie.

                I guess we are all entitled to our own opinions. So be it....

          2. re: ferret

            ...and why should she have endorsed it? I'm not aware Julie ever asked for an endorsement, anyway.

            I'm a LOT younger than Julia, and I also didn't care for the gratuitous profanity in the blog or the book.

            Julia was, among other attributes, always a class act.

            1. re: ferret

              The fact that she was not a serious cook is kinda the point. It was not 'Alain Ducasse Cooks Julia Child.'

              And although I can imagine there are some folks here who would like to watch that movie, I don't see it as a theatrical release.

              1. re: Steve

                I enjoyed the movie quite a lot. I'm now reading the book, but after 130 pages, I'm about to put it down. Julie is writing more about herself than her Julia project. Yawn.

                1. re: lscanlon

                  I actually wanted more food and less banter in the movie, that's just me, but I got what I got and I enoyed it, especially Meryl Streep's performance, which was on-target and stellar.

                  1. re: lscanlon

                    I also had trouble with the book. Her narration does tend to get a little tedious. The food and cooking are secondary.

                    And as far as the movie goes I think everyone wanted more of Julia (and her food) and less of Julie.

                    A bio-pic on the life of Julia Child can certainly stand up on it's own. It certainly does not need any help from a self absorbed blogger.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      I would have loved a movie about Julia Child's life only. It's almost insulting to pair someone like Julia Childs who accomplished so much with her passion for food and life with Julie Powell who whined her way through cooking for a year and fell into fame for that.

                2. re: ferret

                  I just finished My Life in France and could see why Julia would feel that way about the blog. It wasn't the Julie was a cook or not but that she suffered through making every recipe over the course of the year (what an arbitrary time frame) and was not interested in becoming a better cook but in performing a stunt. When you read My Life in France, you read about the work it took for Julia to make MtAoFC and how she went through the little details to make it attainable for those with her similar passion for food and cooking. Julie had none of that. Julia refused to rush through her book, took her time to get the details, sweat over hours on it. For her to see someone take it so callously and consider it a chore must have been hard.

                  1. re: chowser

                    My Life in France is a truly wonderful book.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      Yes, highly recommend it. I immediately ordered MtAoFC right after finishing it. I want to go through it, cook with it, appreciate it as Julia intended when she put all her blood, sweat and tears into it.

                      1. re: Withnail42

                        I am reading it now, because of the movie. I am so amazed at what a wonderful and honest person Julia Child was. She was NOT self-absorbed and able to see herself and her faults. She said she needed to grow intellectually. While reading the book I am asking myself if I have stopped growing and need to examine myself.
                        I am so encouraged by her.
                        Also what she says about the French people. I have never been to France because I have heard all the horror stories of the rudeness of the French from my friends. And we all have high school French. But Julia looks for the best in everyone. She was so open.
                        I also love reading her book "The French Chief Cookbook" and watching the DVDs of her old TV shows. I have only tried a few of her recipes, but I have learned a lot from just reading her books.

                        1. re: Smachnoho

                          <I have never been to France because I have heard all the horror stories of the rudeness of the French from my friends.>

                          I am sad for you for all you've missed out of fear of the unknown on hearsay! Sure, some French people are rude, but nothing like folks here in the USA. You really just need to learn what their customs are before you go.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Sorry, I did not express myself well. I have travelled widely in Europe except France. I love to travel.
                            After reading Julia Child's book "My Life in France" I have a new perspective of France and now would like to go to France inspite of the bad experiences of friends. I will go with Julia Child's attitude.

                            1. re: Smachnoho

                              France is one of the most beautiful countries I've had the privilege of exploring, and there are indeed some rude people there--just like there are everywhere else. The funny thing is that the language is so beautiful that even when they're saying something not-so-nice to you, it sounds lovely! :)

                      2. re: chowser

                        "It wasn't th(at) Julie was a cook or not but that she suffered through making every recipe ............. and was not interested in becoming a better cook but in performing a stunt."

                        I'm not in a position to judge re the 'stunt' part, but the rest of your comment is spot on.

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Comparing Julie Powell to Julia Child really misses the point. I really enjoyed this book, but didn't really expect it to be about food -- I think marketing it as a "foodie" story is kind of disingenuous, and resulted in all the disappointment shown in the posts above. Julie Powell was working something out for herself, and that's what all of her writing seems to be about.

                        "Julie and Julia" both book and blog, was about Powell's own lack of direction as a twentysomething and described, very entertainingly, her solution for finding some. Powell's solution involved creating a fantasy role model in Julia Child (the "Julia Child" character who wrote MtAoFC, not the real one) and then attempting to pay homage to that character. I saw it as a casting of Julia Child in the role of Elvis or Jesus, as an idealized being, not a real person.

                        Since the story was about fantasy-Julia-as-shot-through-vaseline-covered-lens, not the actual Julia Child, I don't think most of the criticism and complaints are warranted. The whole point is that Child is some exalted otherworldly being and Powell is just a chick in Queens. Any meeting between the real-life Julia Child and the real-life Julie Powell would have damaged the fantasy.

                        1. re: the_MU

                          <The whole point is that Child is some exalted otherworldly being and Powell is just a chick in Queens. Any meeting between the real-life Julia Child and the real-life Julie Powell would have damaged the fantasy.>

                          Interesting theory, but I disagree. Julia Child considered herself "just a chick from Pasadena" She was not at all impressed with herself, nor did she think of herself as a "Legend." Her fans did that to her. And the real-life Julie really, really, really wanted to meet the chick from Pasadena. or maybe the Legend.

                          For me, a sad part of the two never meeting is that such an encounter would likely have dispelled the misconceptions Julia formed of Julie from her brief perusal of the blog.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            The book wasn't about what Julia Child thought. It wasn't really about her at all, except as a symbol. And I don't think Julie Powell actually had/has misconceptions about the real Julia Child, any more than we think that a velvet Elvis is really an accurate portrait of Elvis A. Presley.

                      2. I don't mind the idea of writing a blog based on trying to make your way through the book, but agree it turns it into a "stunt" to try to do it within a year. To be precise, a publicity stunt, since it's not just a personal challenge if you blog about it, unless you lock all the posts.

                        I never read her blog so I can't comment on it, but would have zero problem with the profanity or anything else about her personal life, I don't really care either way. But I came away from the movie like many others, wishing it had just been a biopic about Julia. I suppose the idiots that run the studios wouldn't think that would sell so they had to make it "fresher."

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          "But I came away from the movie like many others, wishing it had just been a biopic about Julia. I suppose the idiots that run the studios wouldn't think that would sell so they had to make it "fresher." "

                          But it's funny how Julia and Paul came off as being much more fun, hip and real than Julie and her husband.

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            By all accounts Julia and Paul were a very cool couple.

                          2. re: rockandroller1

                            I'm no Julie Powell fan (frankly, all I know about her is what was in the movie and in the publicity and various discussions surrounding the movie--I haven't met her or read her blog or books...), but I'm wondering if her personal challenge to cook her way through the book, and blog about it, was as much of a publicity stunt as it seems. I mean, blogs were pretty new when she started. The Pioneer Woman and the 365 crockpot lady and the French Laundry Lady and so on didn't exist yet.

                            Is is possible (and I really don't know) that Julie was one of the first to create this kind of challenge to work one's way through a cookbook and blog about it? Since she had a hard time finding direction, maybe the blog was just one way of holding herself accountable. Same with the the "deadline" she gave herself--they always tell you that a goal has to be specific and measurable. Maybe she was just trying to hold herself accountable? I'm just kind of wondering aloud here.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              That's a good thought. I never thought that she started doing it as a publicity stunt (but am speculating from her book) but as a stunt for her life. And, I may be speaking from the view of someone who loved My Life in France and the passion and time Julia Child put into her book but Julie didn't seem to pay it respect. But, it can be argued that a cookbook is a cookbook and not a person's dedication to an art. I think it would be like my saying I'm going to play every Beethoven work in a year, not well or learn anything from it, just plow through it, wrong notes and all. It doesn't give the music the proper respect but then who is to say that's wrong? Now, if I were to say I was going to sing every Britney Spears song...;-) Seriously, though, I think I was swept away with how much Julia cared and how little Julie did.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I think you may have hit the nail on the head. Julia Child was pursuing a passion when she wrote her book.

                                Julie Powell was bored and looking for something to do when she started her blog.

                                1. re: Withnail42

                                  As far as I know, Julia Child was also bored and looking for something to do. It's not like she just started writing a book.

                                  Julie was the driving force for the movie. the fact that she was an average bored person is entirely the point. TDQ really hit the nail on the head about the deadline. Publishers have deadlines, too, y'know.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    Julia might have started cooking out of boredom (though that's not the feeling I got from My Life in France) but it quickly became her passion. Her joie de vivre was apparent throughout the book. Julie started her blog out of boredom but the cooking quickly became a chore. Publishers have deadlines set by others. Julie set a deadline arbitarily and whined about having to do it. I've heard her blog was much better but her book made me want to tell her to go volunteer to cook in a soup kitchen instead to see how lucky she really was.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      You can still read the blog:

                                      I think the Dairy Queen has a great point, you have to remember how long ago this was written, it was one of the first and the genre has now matured. It is is difficult to read without comparing to writers today but it is wise to remember it was a pioneering work - warts and all.

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        I wouldn't go quite as far as to call her work 'pioneering'.

                                      2. re: chowser

                                        I found the book boring and banal. The blog has a lot more spunk and spirit.

                              1. re: FED

                                "Come to think of it -- just pipe-dreaming here -- wouldn't it be great if in addition to absorbing Julia's love of food and zest for life, a few moviegoers picked up on a little of that character as well?"

                                The best line. I haven't seen the movie but loved her book and that's what struck me the most about Julia Child.

                                1. re: FED

                                  FED - I like the link, especially the line towards the end: "I don't think she could begin to know what to think about the blogging generation, where a beef stew can result in 800 words of anguish." So true.

                                  1. re: FED

                                    Thank you so much for providing that link. What a great article. So beautifully written.