I had no intention of reviewing Julie Powell's book since I thought everyone knew about it with the movie, Julie & Julia coming out with Meryl Streep. But, when a librarian friend told me she didn't know there had been a book, I thought I'd at least give a short summary.
Julie & Julia is subtitled "365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, & Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living". And, Julie Powell actually did risk all of that. At twenty-nine she was married, living in a small apartment in New York City, working a number of temp jobs that eventually turned into a secretarial job for a government agency. She had a group of odd friends, spent evenings drinking, worrying about having a baby before it was too late. Frankly, Julie's life was a little boring. On a trip home, she swiped her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the first step in a year-long project, without even realizing it. When she tried a recipe from it, and her husband, Eric, complimented her and suggested culinary school, she made the mistake of saying maybe she'd just cook her way through the book. And, then she started blogging about it.
Julie Powell is a disaster in this book. Her life, her apartment, her friends, and her language in the book and blog are disastrous. Her husband is the saving grace of the book, and of her life. With Eric's encouragement, she plows her way through the year, and the recipes. Somewhere along the way, she finds a cheering section on her blog, and attracts the attention of the media. And, she learns a lesson about looking for the joy in life.
To be honest, I read Julie & Julia because I want to see the movie. I can't wait to see Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Reading the book was like watching a NASCAR race, waiting for the giant crash. Even though you know it's not right to watch the crash, you can't look away, watching it over and over. It's a cliché that's been used often before, nothing original in that comment. But, Julie Powell's life was a disaster, and I agreed with some of her blog readers who tired of her language. She did a wonderful job, though, with the imaginary conversations between Paul and Julia Child. Julie & Julia is the story of a woman who triumphed, completed a tough goal with the help of her husband and friends. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I hope I can recommend the movie.
The Rest of the Story - My nephew, Ben, is in his second year of cooking school. He makes, and markets, a barbeque sauce called Gentle Ben's. Ben already saw the movie, and enjoyed it. Here's the follow-up from his mother. "The other day on the news I heard a promo to enter your sauce recipe in a contest at a restaurant at an upscale shopping area in Perrysburg (Ohio). I suggested to Ben that he do that, and he did. All he had to do was enter on line and tell them the ingredients for his sauce. Tuesday he got an email that he was one of the five finalists in the contest and he had to come to the restaurant yesterday to prepare his sauce. He got two tickets to the screening of Julie & Julia and a few other things. The winner was to have their sauce used for a week at the restaurant. Ben and his father went up to the contest. They took all the premeasured ingredients with them, but were able to just open a jar. There had been 40 recipes submitted, five were finalists. One didn't show, one withdrew because the restaurant is an Asian grill (we didn't know that either) and they don't have stoves. This person needed to cook her sauce on a stove. So, three people competed and Ben won! He got ten tickets to the movie, a copy of a book about Julia Child, a Julie & Julia apron, tote bag and book light (can you tell the contest was to promote the movie?) and they will use his sauce next week. He also got a gift certificate to the restaurant."
So, congratulatins, Ben! He and his father both said the movie was funny.
Julie Powell's blog is www.juliepowell.blogspot.com
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, & Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell. Little, Brown & Company, ©2005. ISBN 9780641852169 (hardcover), 320p.