Sunday, January 30, 2011

Julie and Julia and soubise

I finally got around watching the movie "Julie and Julia" last night.   While many food bloggers went to the theatre to see it, I waited for it to show free on cable, and that was a mistake.   I waited because I wasn't a huge fan of the book....but this is a rare example of the movie being far, far better than the book.   It was wonderful - of course, Meryl Streep is perfect and Amy Adams actually made Julie Powell a likable person.   But what I didn't expect is how much I loved all the clothes and home furnishings and the kitchens.   I would have loved to see this movie on the big screen!

I could go on for a whole blog post about what is wrong with Julie Powell's writing, (read the reviews of her subsequent book Cleaving for more details) but instead I will focus on what I liked regarding her first book.   And that is thank goodness, her long suffering husband came up with the idea of her cooking her way through MTAOFC and blogging about it.    (I hope he writes a book some day - sounds like he has some great ideas!)  Without his suggestion, she wouldn't have wrote her blog, got her book deal and wrote a book that inspired me to buy "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and become a fan of Julia Child.    I can't say that every recipe is a winner in MTAOFC - like Julie Powell, I can't understand why anyone would eat aspic, for example.  The beauty of MTAOFC is that it is wonderful to read, like a novel.  It sat on my nightstand for months.  It made me want to visit France.

I have never been a huge fan of Nora Ephron's movies.."When Harry Met Sally" was okay, but I really didn't like "You've Got Mail" or "Sleepless in Seattle" (which both seem like the same movie to me)...but I have loved her books, especially Crazy Salad.   But Julie and Julia is the exception.   It's beautifully filmed - how did she manage to make Meryl Streep look so tall?  As I said before, I loved the clothes and I am really not a clothes kind of gal.   Judith Jones, Julia Child's editor, has said that her writer felt that Julia Powell's blog was "a stunt" and she felt that it made her look less serious than she was.    (By the way, I really loved Judith Jones' memoir The Tenth Muse which also spent lots of time on my nightstand, too)     I think the movie did a great job of highlighting that setback for Julie Powell, although I wonder if she handled that as graciously in real life as her character did in the movie, given her temperament.  I wondered if Julia Child would have liked the movie as much as I did, and I found Judith Jones' blog post on the subject  that suggests she might. 

One of the few recipes I have ever cooked from MTAOFC is soubise, which is a cheese, rice and onion casserole. The recipe in the book is a bit more fussy than this version.  It's worth hauling the food processor out for....I use half and half instead of the heavy cream called out in the original, because I have it on hand.   Any negative affect of all the fat in this dish is surely counteracted by all the onions...they are just as good for you as garlic.   Plus, Julia Child lived to 2 days shy of her 92nd year.  Bon appetit!


1/2 c rice
4 T butter
2 pounds onions
1/2 t salt
pepper to taste
1/4 c half and half
1/2 c grated gruyere cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and boil the rice for exactly 5 minutes. Drain immediately. Peel the onions and thinly slice in a food processor. Melt the butter in a stove and oven-safe casserole and briefly saute the onions. Stir the rice and seasonings. Cover and bake at 300 degrees for an hour, stirring once or twice while cooking. Remove from the oven, stir in the cream and cheese, and taste and correct the seasonings.


Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

Hmmm, maybe I should watch the movie now. I LOVED the book because I could identify with Julie's time of crisis. I started the movie a couple of times but I just couldn't get the same connection.

CallieK said...

You and I had the exact opposite response - I saw the movie first and thought the Julia Child part of the story was wonderful but I absolutely hated the Julie character. She came across so whiney and self absorbed I was curious why anyone would read her blog. I was also amazed why any director would make a key character so unlikable; when she utters the line "Julia Child hates me!" my friend and I both said "Good, because so do we!"

I found the book at the library and decided to give it a shot since I usually like books much better than movies. I was pleasantly surprised to find I warmed to Julie much more in her own words. Yes she's still needy and annoying but in the book at least she's aware of it and while the self deprecating humour doesn't entirely redeem her, it does make her a bit more interesting and likable.

TeacherPatti said...

I love Amy Adams! She's one of the few who could make that Julie chick seem likable and not like that punk whiny ass bitch she really is.

Beth Kane said...

I also loved the film. Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child was so joyful and so touching. I saw J.C.
in an elevator once. She had just had her hair done at the same salon I did (77 Maiden Lane in San Francisco) and I was so amazed to hear her voice as she spoke to her friend. I tried not to stare. Anyway, my small brush with Julia...

Tricia said...

haven't read the book or seen the movie, but the recipe sounds good!

Tightwad Mom said...

I just found a copy of Julie and Julia at the thrift store (for $3.00). After this post I can't wait to watch it! P.S. I love your blog!!!!

Daisy Driver said...

I watched the movie today - my husband watched it a week or so ago and said I had to see. I really did not like the book either - Julie comes off as a whiney, sniveling, ungrateful (I could ontinue)person. I couldn't even finish it. So we were iced in today and Woodman says, lets watch. I LOVED it. I adore Julia and Julie wasn't nearly as bad as she is in the book. I will definitely get the book of Paul's letters. I may even try to finish Julie's book but not sure I can.