This is one book I never thought I would read - a book by a woman who cooked her way through Vol. 1 of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, blogged about it & got a contract to write a book.
I remember when it first came out a few years ago. Gimmicky, I thought - like the guy who wrote a book about living Biblically for a year. Not much interest for me. But I did read & enjoy My Life in France, Julia Child's posthumous memoir of her years in France after WWII.
Saw the movie of with Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child. But, whereas the film takes the title of Julie Powell's book, it is Meryl Streep's portrayal and details from Julia Child's book that dominate.
With so many books out there I thought I could safely pass on this one. BUT, guess what? About a year ago I joined a cooking project inspired by Julie & Julia. Only there are nine of us cooking & blogging our way through Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, one recipe per day from start to finish. It's taken over a year and we're near the end. My last recipe, "Apulia's Olive Bread" appears on June 1. It's been a great experience - a lot of excellent recipes (only a few duds) & learning lots of new stuff - never would have attempted many of the recipes I have been assigned.
So, I thought I would see how closely Julie Powell's experience mirrored mine.... Actually, not very much, as far as I can tell. I had to prepare one recipe a week over about 16 months. She set herself the challenge of preparing approximately 1.5 recipes a day over 365 days. Also, since she had a full-time job, many of her meals weren't ready until very late in the evening. And while her blog may have been mainly about the cooking experience, her book is more of "A Year in the Life of Julie Powell".
But some of here experiences rang true to my own:
- sourcing oddball ingredients
- problems created by skimming over directions
- spending a lot of time on recipes that really weren't worth it - see Bitch Rice
- making crepes (or crespelles, in my case)
- boning a duck
- organ meats
- the joy when everything turns out well.
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I anticipated. I read the first few chapters at a very leisurely pace, then when I got used to the setting, characters & her style, I sped through the rest. Recommended, even if you have seen the film.