Not long after food blogging first cropped up on my radar, I discovered Julie Powell’s blog, the Julie/Julia Project. I thought the idea was great – to document her attempts to cook the recipes in Julia Child’s classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just one year – but I didn’t much like Julie’s blog persona and I never went back. How times change. A couple of years later, I couldn’t put down the book that she wrote, much of which was taken directly from her the same blog entries that had annoyed me.
While the episodic nature of her adventures in cooking and the concomitant tears and tantrums was – to me, at least, if not to many of her numerous ‘bleeders’ (Julie’s name for her blog readers) – more exasperating than not, her book is far more entertaining than just the sum of its parts. Through her blog, Julie developed her own, very distinctive, voice and her account of the 365 days she spent cooking 524 recipes in her small apartment kitchen has also changed her life.
When Julie started the project she was miserable, an anonymous temp in a New York government office. Twelve months later, having, along the way, learned how to split marrow bones, kill lobsters without a second thought and cooked for New York Times restaurant critic Amanda Hesser, she was an online celebrity with a book deal.
It’s a Cinderella story of the kind dreamed about by anyone who has ever wanted to turn their passion into a job and, for that alone, Julie has to be applauded. She’s also deserving of acclaim for writing such a funny, exasperating and enjoyable book. Julie & Julia is well worth investing both money and time in.
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell is published by Fig Tree.