On reading Julie and Julia

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 8:02 p.m.

I'm utterly ashamed of myself.  No, not because I'm reading Julie and Julia, which is admittedly, a fluffy sort of book, but there's no harm in that.  The woman swears the way I swear, but there’s no shame in that either. I do not and cannot imagine myself taking on the project that she took on, namely, cooking all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child in 365 days.  I'm not even ashamed that I can't cook.  It's that the woman did the recipes, blogged about her experiences and then headed off to work from Queens to lower Manhattan for a mind-numbing day as a secretary in an office.  She did all that and rode the subway both ways, for God’s sake.

I'm not knocking secretaries; my mother brought home the bacon (okay, so we didn't keep kosher - Mom loved bacon and served it every Saturday morning, kinehora).  Julie Adams spends much of the book bemoaning her life, first as a temp secretary than as a secretary for a government agency doing post-September 11-memorial work.  Her original intention in coming to New York was to be an actress.  The kvetching is hers not mine and everything comes from that kvetching.

As she approaches thirty and discovers that she has cysts on her ovaries that will probably make conceiving a child difficult, she hits biological clock despair.  Through a series of visits back to Texas and conversations with her husband, she resolves to begin the Julie/Julia project, complete it in 365 days and blog about it.

I just can't get over the fact that someone would cook and wash dishes in a crappy apartment till eleven at night, get up in the morning and blog about it and then go to work.  This is the kind of commitment that is beyond my comprehension.  Yet when I look back at that period in my life, I destroyed my voice by singing/screaming in a New Wave Band that was just as bad as my singing/screaming.  The late-twenties bring on a late-youth crisis that can be resolved innumerable ways.  Her way was definitely more popular and lucrative than mine.

One thing that attracted my attention was how Adams received comments on her blogs almost instantly. I guess when you actually are doing something and writing about it, it will attract more attention than writing a blog for older people who are first learning about technology, I mean how would they even find my damn blog anyway.  I’m taking this book personally!

I’ve had quite a few colleagues tell me that the movie is much better than the book as it focuses more on Julia Child’s experiences in France which are far more interesting to them.  I think people are probably taken in by Meryl Streep playing Julia Child, and everyone knows what a commanding actress Streep.  This is a bit unfair to the original concept of the book which is to look at an every day young woman who rises above her despair in a novel and entertaining way.

 A certain flair for cooking would be a prerequisite for this project.  I've often thought that I could be a hit as someone who no one could teach to cook.  Pair me with Jamie Oliver, and watch the comic antics ensue as I chop off a few fingers and set the stove on fire, oh yes, and scream for my husband who is the real cook in the family.  Jamie knows better than to take me on.

I’m enjoying this book.  It’s funny and there’s also the message that when life is really crappy, you can find something to get you out of your funk and back into a place where you can derive pleasure from life again; in Adams’ case, it’s eating very fatty foods and chopping up live lobsters.  As someone who is willing to eat lobster as long as someone else chops it, I would recommend this book to those who are not afraid to read a book that involves food, sex, whining, soul searching, New York atmosphere, and a little bit of Julia Child’s life thrown in.  It’s a decent vacation read which has inspired me to blog about something other than web sites.  On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me to make calves foot jelly, which is really made from a calf’s foot.  My daughter may have the right idea about being a vegetarian.  



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