2 Words that describe the book: Cooking quest
3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:
- Setting: Modern-day New York City
- Julie Powell—A disgruntled New York secretary, Julie Powell feels like her life is being wasted in a dead-end job. Determined to break out of her doldrums, she decides to embark on The Project: cooking every dish in the first volume of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Supported by her ever-patient husband, she documents her year-long project on a little thing known as a blog. Hilarity (and an eventual book deal, movie and fame) ensue.
- Julia Child—One of America’s most loved chefs, Julia Child is credited with bringing French cooking to the masses with her TV show and endearing presentation style. Throughout the book, we get little glimpses into Julia’s life and learn how she also needed a project in her life, which became her passion for cooking. Apparently, the real Julia Child was aware of Powell’s project while it was happening … and didn’t quite warm up to it. (A fact that causes Julie quite a bit of angst.)
- I liked reading about Julie’s blogging experiences. Her thrill when she first begins getting comments mirrored my own, as did her amazement that she gained regular readers who actually cared whether she posted or not. It was fun to see her blogging journey develop, and I enjoyed the good-natured ribbing from her husband Eric gives when she gets a little carried away with herself. Consider this exchange:
“I only did six recipes last week. The week before that with the folks in town I didn’t do any at all. My readers need me!”
I had meant that to be construed as a joke, even though it wasn’t, really. Eric was having none of it. “Your readers? Come on, Julie.”
“I think the dozen people who click onto your Web site while they take their coffee breaks will manage to carry on if they don’t get to read about you sauteing thorny vegetables in butter for one more day.”
“Oh, f**k off.”
- I liked how Powell described her various cooking adventures. They were often funny and epic undertakings that didn’t result in dinner being eaten until the wee hours of the morning. Consider this bit about bone marrow:
I clawed the stuff out bit by painful bit, until my knife was sunk into the leg bone up past the hilt. It made dreadful scraping noises—I felt like I could feel it in the center of my bones. A passing metaphor to explorers of the deep wilds of Africa does not seem out of place here—there was a definite Heart of Darkness quality to this. How much more interior can you get, after all, than the interior of bones? It’s the center of the center of things. If marrow were a geological formation, it would be magma roiling under the earth’s mantle. If it were a plant, it would be a delicate moss that grows only in the highest crags of Mount Everest, blooming with tiny white flowers for three days in the Nepalese spring. If it were a memory, it would be your first one, your most painful and repressed one, the one that has made you who you are.
So there I was, scooping out the center of things, thinking mostly it was some nasty sh*t.
- I liked Powell’s potty mouth, which gives the book a down-to-earth “she is me” flavor to it. (As you can see, even the two excerpts I chose both have “potty” words in them. If these kinds of words are a big turn-off for you, Powell’s writing might be too. I, however, liked it. The girl knows her way around a curse word or two.)
- I liked watching Powell’s Project take on a life of its own and actually launch her into a new phase of life (though it fills me with seething jealousy at the same time). I know she has a new book out now, and I’m rather curious to see how her journey progresses past this project. (I’m also rather interested in reading Julia Child’s My Life In France, which other bloggers have told me is better than this book.)
I’m giving the book 4 stars. It was as fun and fast read, and I enjoyed following along on Julie’s cooking adventures, though I don’t think I would ever want to eat ANYTHING (aside from the crepes) that she describes cooking. If you are a foodie, I suspect this book would be even more of a fun read for you. And as a blogger, it is fun to see watch her blogging journey develop. Now if all of us could just get a book/movie deal out this little hobby!
I won my copy in a giveaway last year (though sadly I can’t remember from which blog.) I’ll be giving my copy away in my upcoming May giveaway extravaganza. Also, I read this book for the Read Your Doppelganger part of the Take Another Chance Challenge, which asks you to read an author with the same initials or name as you. I share initials with Julie Powell. (Now if only I could share a book deal with her!)
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