Skip to content

“Life is the ultimate binge.”

September 8, 2009


The title of this post is my favorite Julia Child quote.

I, like about a jillion other people, was so excited when I saw the first preview for Julie/Julia. After some quick Googling, I found Julie Powell’s actual blog, and read along for a few months of archives. I added Mastering the Art of French Cooking to my library hold list, and here we are—three months later it was finally ready for pick-up.


Well, so I thought. Apparently I added volume 2 to my hold queue, not the volume 1 made famous by the movie, so I am a bit disappointed. Volume 2 sort of expands on what Julia and Simone assume you’ve “mastered” from volume 1, so I think I’ll wait until the REAL one that I wanted comes back to my hold list (another 3 months, I’m guessing).

What I love, and what I’m sure Julie Powell and everyone else who reads the book or has studied Julia at all also loves, is the way that she describes methods, foods, ingredients, techniques, and the general how-tos. Something about the way she writes is both humorous and empowering and entirely accurate.

When cutting up a live, raw lobster: “The serious cook really must face up to the task personally.”

Using yeast: “When you know your yeast is fresh, you need have no doubts about its capacities. If you think it may be stale do not hesitate to make it prove itself by dissolving it in the warm water called for in your recipe.”

Breads: “A fine load of plain French bread, the long crackly kind a Frenchman tucks under his arm as he hurries home to the family lunch, has a very special quality. Its inside is patterned with holes almost like Swiss cheese, and when you tear off a piece it wants to come sideways; it has body, chewability, and tastes and smells of the grain. Plain French bread contains only flour, water, salt, and yeast, because that is the law in France. The method, however, is up to each individual baker.”

On soup: “There is hardly a man alive who does not adore soup, particularly when it is homemade. Hot soup on a cold day, cold soup on a hot day, and the smell of soup simmering in the kitchen are fundamental, undoubtedly even atavistic, pleasure and solaces that give a special kind of satisfaction.”

Sausage: “A sausage is only ground meat and seasonings, a mixture no more complicated than a meat load, and for fresh unsmoked sausages you need no special equipment at all. A sausage-stuffing mechanism and sausage casings are not necessary because you can use other means to arrive at the sausage shape. In French terminology a saucisse is primarily a small and thin sausage, usually fresh, and a saucisson is a large sausage usually smoked or otherwise cured; the one may be called the other, however, if it is a question of size.” [This is particularly helpful for me, as when I spent 6 weeks in France with a host family, I never could get this right and it was never explained why.]

Oh, what a treat. I’m going to flag some recipes I’m ambitious enough to try, but enjoy her lovely writing along the way. There is something adorable about the way she turns a phrase, and I love it. There is something so quintessentially American pop culture about the fact that 50 years after it was written, a book goes into another reprint and sits at number 2 on Amazon’s bestsellers list.

We just love a good blog, a good movie, a good story, don’t we?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: