Friday, January 16, 2009

Julie and Julia

So, I've just finished reading Julie Powell's book Julie & Julia, which is the story of how she decided to make all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was recommended to me by several people after I posted my Coq Au Vin triumph earlier this month. It's a book I've always been somewhat interested in reading, but I must be honest and say that several reviews of it I'd read in the past, most notably Lesley's, turned me off it a bit. So I had more or less decided to keep it in mind, but not really actively seek it out. The new cooking project renewed my interest, as did a cheap price tag when I found the hardcover in the bargain racks at our local Borders. So I decided to take a chance.

I enjoyed reading the book. However, if I'm being honest, it was not what I was really looking for. I fully expected the book to be about cooking. And in reality, it is only approximately 40% about cooking. The remaining 60% is about her friends, her family, her husband, her life in New York, her crappy job, her pets, her desire to make babies. In short, it's a blog.

Now, I'm not complaining (too much) about that. But I was looking for a book that went into detail about the trials and tribulations of, well, mastering the art of French cooking--finding weird ingredients, eating strange foods for the first time, kitchen accidents, things she didn't like eating, etc. To be sure, there were a few times when Powell delves into these areas. And there were a few occasions that were laugh out loud funny. But they were so randomly interspersed with all the other stuff that I kind of was unhappy with the final result. Perhaps Powell wrote the book as a "behind the scenes" type of thing for her regular blog readers. Unfortunately for her (or me), I was not a regular blog reader. And the book doesn't exactly inspire me to seek out the blog and read it. I didn't care about her friends' love life or how many vodka gimlets she and her husband downed. I wanted to know about the cooking.

Ultimately, this was the big letdown for me. There wasn't enough in the book about the cooking. I also thought the fictional scenes between Julia Child and her husband and his brother were a bit silly. They reminded me of the nutty dream scenes in the adoption book Forever Lily, which I read a couple years ago. I ultimately skipped some of those dream scenes--they were too ridiculous, and I was sorely tempted to skip these little vignettes as well. There were plenty of the Childs' writings to be found if she wanted to use them to connect sections of the book or draw certain parallels. To actually make things up was a little silly.

I'm waffling on whether or not to keep the book on my shelf. I liked it, when all is said and done, but I'm not sure if it's a keeper. Anyone want to borrow it?

0 pearl(s) of wisdom: