Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Julie/Julia Project

I just finished reading "Julie & Julia," the story of a young Long Islander who makes every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I didn't love her tone throughout the book, although I still found it hard to put down. I felt like Julie Powell was just a bite too cynical for my taste.

But I do appreciate the bigger message that she revealed. Her story was more about slaving in a kitchen struggling to complete recipes. Despite the fact that she claims she is still "living in our crappy Long Island City apartment" and seems to resent everything outside of her bubble, she has reached an personal epiphany and honestly exposes that. Of course, it's more about her character than about her culinary skills. She explains that:

"Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It's not what I thought it was. I thought it was all about-- I don't know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there's something else, something that these things grows out of. It's joy."

It's those last two sentences that caught my eye and give perspective to the whole Julie/Julia Project.

But now I have to think about how all of that relates to me. Obviously, Julie Powell was struggling in her life to find meaning in what she did; to really see her contribution. I struggle with that also and I think that's partially why, despite they writing style, I enjoyed "Julie & Julia." On another level, I'm just jealous that she had the tenacity and perseverance to complete the project...I can't imagine how much stress was put on her marriage and on her bank account.

I just counted my cookbooks and I have around 70, including MAoFC. Taking her project one step further, imagine what could be accomplished and shared if I cooked through my 70 books. Not right now, but perhaps in baby steps as time goes on. Then maybe, I could start to understand Julie Powell's conclusions and discover some of my own along the way.

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