Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Friday, September 14, 2007

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

With this, I will be caught up on my book blogs… only to be hopelessly behind after our trip to Italy.
I had heard of the Julie / Julia project and the book, but never got around to reading it, thinking it was just another obsessed, foul-mouthed New-Yorker writer.  Fortunately Vy loaned it to me. 

The book is written by Julie Powell, about her 1 year self-imposed challenge to cook everything in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of Fine Cooking.  The project was motivated by feeling stuck in her job (a low level drone in a government office) as well as rebellion towards the whole Alice Waters, locovore, trendy foodie things.  I instantly connected with the author – she was a Buffy the Vampire fan (the blog was going on during the last season), found the act of preparing food very sensual, and was trying to figure out what to do next with her life.  The book is very entertaining, mixing stories about Julie Child and stories of her own family in with the trials of cooking the recipes (including treks to find bone marrow, brains and other offal).  Her husband Eric is portrayed as a saint, her friends are nuts.  Its fun to read.  

But what really struck me was not the challenge of cooking, but the blogging.  In addition to cooking every recipe, she blogged about everything she cooked. I went on-line and looked at some of the blogs. She blogged almost every day, and not just “I checked Filets to Poisson en Souffle off the list, didn’t puff but tasted good”… no, she went into details about procuring the ingredients, the moods of her husband, her cats, occasional Buffy references, how the food was prepared, what worked, what tasted good, and what didn’t.  And it was entertaining… she had a huge following (after a while, she set up a way people could donate money to help buy lamb and more butter to keep the project going – and they did).   She never talks about the challenges of blogging in the book.. things I find really hard, like making it witty (but not contrived), not offending others (however, that New York thing probably helps here), how personal to get, making a good story but not going on and on, punctuation and grammar good enough to make it readable.  It has a happy ending, she found her real calling as a writer.

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