Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Food blogging and cooking - a recipe for success?

Today being the final day of Rita’s annual leave, I thought it fitting that I celebrate it by taking myself along to the movies to see “Julie and Julia”, a movie about the well known American cook famed for her French cooking from the 1950’s, Julia Child, and an American food blogger, Julie Powell, from 2004. The movie is based on two separate books written by the two women: Julia Child’s “My Life in France”, and “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” by Julie Powell - the result of her blog.

Julie Powell’s story takes place in New York in modern times, whilst Julia’s is set in Paris in 1949 when she first went there with her new husband who was posted there with his work. Julia wanted to do something with her boring days in Paris while husband Paul was at work so, because she loved eating so much, decided she would do a cooking course at the Cordon Bleu cooking school.

Julie, in 2004, was finding life generally unfulfilling, so decided to write a food blog. The focus of her blog would be her cooking every recipe out of the Julia Child Cook Book over the course of one year.

The way the film was made, with both eras intertwined throughout the film, is seamless, and probably, in hindsight, the best thing about the film. The two characters never meet, and the eras are kept totally separate.

Meryl Streep plays Julia Child. The last movie I saw her in was playing the mother in “Mamma Mia”, both the movie and character of which I absolutely loved. This time, as Julia Child, I hated her, well, the character anyway. Any pleasure I might have gained from watching the cookery component of the movie was instantly dispelled by the fact that I found the Julia character the most annoying person I have ever seen on-screen!

The Julie character was, for me, an immature, egocentric Gen Y-er. When any of the recipes failed to work for her (for example the calf’s foot aspic, or stuffing a chicken), she had a big meltdown! She lay on her kitchen floor crying! I wanted to slap her! In fact I also wanted to slap Julia too, for the ridiculous way she acted and spoke – which I can only presume Meryl based on actual footage she saw of Julia’s TV cooking programs from that era.

So – I’m glad I went along. This film had all the base ingredients which promised me total viewing and entertainment satisfaction. Bad luck for me I didn’t get as much as I had hoped out of it, but, hey, that’s life, and, not being a Gen Y-er who needs that instant gratification (of perfection) in order to feel the day has been a total success, am more than happy with having seen it.

Posted on by Rita


Christina said...

Hi Rita,
thought I might like to see this movie, but I'm not a cinema person. I struggle to sit still that long without falling asleep, so I may wait for the dvd.
Just a quick question. I'm having trouble getting onto your restaurant pages. It takes me to the page, but there is no list as there usually is. Is it just me or is there a problem?

ut si said...

I enjoyed reading Julie Powell's blog & was pleased for her when she got the book deal which I also read. Both were gutsier & dirtier than the sanitized (for American audiences I guess) movie. It took me a minute to get into Streep's portrayal of Julia Child but by the end of the movie I adored the character...Child reminded me of a more gregarious & less anal Elizabeth David. Agree with you re whiny 20 somethings though. See it on DVD when it's released Christina.

Rita said...

Hi Christina - thanks for your comments, and yes, there is a problem. Have emailed my web-guru just now, so hope he will be able to fix it asap.
Ut Si - glad you balanced my words out. I felt guilty that I disliked the 2 characters so much, but had to write what I thought, so I did!

Apologies to anyone trying to get into my Restaurants Page - there IS a fault of some kind. Hopefully to be fixed soon....

Sami said...

I really enjoyed the movie. I read the book accidnetly before I even knew there was to be a movie. I didn't really like the book and I thought she was a bit of a whiner. I read as much of the blog as I could manage before seeing the movie.

I'm not a bit Streep fan but admire her ability as an actor. I didn't think I was going to enjoy the Julia Child personality, but by the end of the movie I did.

I think the Julie character used the cooking challenge as an important release from her stressful and emotionally draining job. When things went wrong the dissapointment and frustration was magnified so many times to her. things that normally would not make you and I collapse had such a profound effect on her and that is why she needed the challenge.

Anyway - I loved the movie more than I thought I would.

Christina said...

Oh so glad it wasn't just me, cos it usually is. I was trying to find the phone number for the Grain as we're taking our son tonight in celebration of him getting his drivers licence. Yee ha!
I'm so proud of him.
I'll let you know if the second time is as good as the first. I WILL not be having those shredded potato things though.
Hey Rita, need to mention I'm off to Melbourne again at the end of the month, so will hopefully get to try some new places.
Look out Lygon Street. Here I come!
Any reccomendations gratefully accepted.

Tassiegal said...

I want to see the movie - but I made myself read the book first - the book is a lovely "no think" read, with a good sense of emotion. I was going to see the movie in Gold Class as there is a special for 70 dollars with a 2 course meal prepared by Karen, but I may just go normal cinema.

Stephen Estcourt said...

Yes I must say I agree with you Rita about the stupid acting and speaking but as you say it was presumably the Julia Child persona. Won't be rushing to make Rasberry Bavarian and I am over Beef Bourgignon, which you can't make anymore anyway for want of a calf's foot!

beachsands said...

When I met you, I was reading the book. I quite enjoyed it, but didn't like the Julie character.
I think that the movie was great. All previous crits are valid, but let's get over the characters vs the acting. Meryl Streep is amazing and plays Julia Childs pretty close to the bone.
She may be the best US actress of our times. Doubt was amazing. Mama mia was fun and her portrayal of the vague biarche was grand fun.

I loved the movie and I was not expecting to like it. I used the book in the 70s, but have ordered Lizzy David's French provincial instead.
About time you came to visit. My spare room is about as good as it will ever be.
Fins is just just down a short road.

Little Birdie said...

You should send the PM a link to your blog. Apparently he's keen to find out whether the movie is worth seeing. And Tasmania is becoming his second home.

sir grumpy said...

Rita, any tinme I see meryl Streep on a movie's credits I just don't watch. She is painful for me.

Rita said...

Hi All
Thanks for your worthwhile comments on the movie. As I constantly reinforce here on this blog, every opinion and thought (both here, and generally in life) is sheerly the account of one person's reactions and feelings to a situation, and I appreciate that we all have varying and differing ideas and opinions about, in particular, this movie. Sami - I'm pleased you enjoyed it.
Christina - come on! How was the Grain meal at Take 2? And another trip to Melb??
Sands - much as I'd love it, I can't see a trip to NSW in the forseeable future I'm afraid.
Little Birdie - thanks for the heads-up!
Stephen - I love Boeuf Bourgignon, no matter what!
TG - please take the time to go to the Gold class viewing - I was chatting to Michael Roberts the other day, and it sounds like a great choice to take advantage of that particular deal.
Sir G - you are such a miserable old bugger, and SO not a female!