Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

I'm sure many of you know the premise: Julie Powell hates her job, lives in a crappy apartment, and is about to turn 30.  She's looking for something that would bring meaning and purpose to her life, when she and her husband concoct the idea to make all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.  Crazy?  Yes.  Stressful?  Amazingly so.  But does it work?  Well, you'll just have to read it to find out.

As a warning to those of you who are more sensitive to foul and coarse language, you may just want to watch the movie (which I've heard really toned down Julie, but I haven't seen it yet).  Julie Powell is, well, what I consider to be a typical New Yorker (even though she's really from Texas and gets her foul mouth honestly, so she says).  But really, I found her to be extremely relateable (spell check is telling me that's not a word, but I swear it is).  What I loved was that she didn't hold back.  If it was me, I would have toned down my language, making sure I didn't offend anybody.  But she doesn't, and I loved how, because of that, you feel like you know her better, like you know the real Julie.

To tell you the truth, I wish I'd thought of this scheme first.  There's no way anyone can do anything like this ever again without someone saying, "Oh, like that Julie/Julia thing, right?"  But there's no way I would have finished this.  I couldn't have dismembered a live lobster, nor would I care to eat many of the things in that cookbook.  But it did make me want to cook.  (Maybe not the lobster and liver, but I wouldn't mind trying to whip up some crepes or learn how to make a great omelette.)  The funny thing is my grandmother, without knowing I was reading this book, gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking volumes I & II just the other day.  How's that for perfect timing?

My only real critique is that sometimes the writing was a little hard to follow.  Julie seemed to skip from topic to topic every once in awhile, but it somehow all ended up tying in to what she was originally talking about.  All in all, this is a very enjoyable read: funny, fresh, and inspiring.

4 out of 5 stars.

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