Monday, 22 April 2013
When it comes to cooking, Julia Child and I probably couldn't be more different. She loved butter. I never use butter. She made things like aspic, which is something I wouldn't be caught dead preparing. Yet, I think we would have got along fine. We definitely could have enjoyed a glass of red and talked about our love for Paris. I also could have told her how much I adored her kitchenware.
Let me add here that I think Susan Bode, the set decorator who has decorated the sets of many of my favourite films, did an amazing job collecting all these items. I cannot get enough of this kitchen.
Anyway, I have seen Julie & Julia many times but this is the first time I get a copy containing Nora Ephron's commentary. (It turned out to be the last film she made; she passed away last year.) When I watched it and listened to her describing the making of the film there was one thing that surprised me.
Nora Ephron says (about 1 hour and 47 minutes into the film) that when she first heard it she thought it wasn't true or that Julia simply hadn't read Julie's blog. Even though quite old at the time, Julia had read it and she didn't like Julie Powell and thought that she had been ripped off by her; that Julie wasn't a serious cook. Those are almost Nora's exact words in the commentary.
Ouch, that must have hurt.
Imagine the time she devoted to this project, cooking all the 524 recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 in one year, and realising that the woman she so admired and looked up to didn't approve of what she was doing. You only have to look at the index of that book to realise the willpower required to complete this task. Some of these recipes are very difficult and take hours to cook (merely reading through some would make me tired!). And mind you, Julie was someone who had a full-time job.
Nora Ephron based her screenplay on Powell's book, Julie & Julia: The Year of Cooking Dangerously and Julia Child's book My Life in France that she wrote with her great-nephew Alex Prud'homme. Besides the director's commentary, there is another bonus material on the DVD called 'Secret Ingredients,' about the making of the film. In that one Meryl Streep says: "I'm not really doing Julia Child, I'm doing Julie Powell's idea of who she was."
I have mentioned this film on the blog before saying that I wasn't exactly a fan of the Julie Powell part; that I tend to watch only the scenes where Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci so wonderfully portray the lives of the Childs. But you know what, after hearing Streep talk about how she approached this role I have decided that from now on I'm going to give Julie Powell more credit. There probably wouldn't be a film about the life of the Childs if Julie hadn't blogged about her task and turned it into a book.
Jonathan Wenk for Sony Pictures via the Julie & Julia Facebook Page, except 2-4 via Mrs. Blandings