A random passion

Intrigued by previews featuring two of my favorite actresses, lots of food and plenty of laughs and tears, I was easily sold on Julie and Julia. Although I haven’t actually seen the movie yet, I did recently finish the book. I’ve heard from some that the movie is better than the book, but I can’t yet offer my take on that.

To clarify, the two are not interchangeable. The book is Julie Powell’s memoir of her year cooking through Julia’s masterwork, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and blogging all about her Julie/Julia Project. She tells of her struggles and triumphs in the kitchen, as well as the various other things happening with her job, life, marriage, city and country during those twelve months. The movie is based in part on this memoir and in part on Julia Child’s own memoir of her life and development as a chef. So the book focuses on Julie the whole time, while the movie jumps back and forth between the two women’s lives. I still can’t wait to see it.

The memoir was fun because – besides the obvious reason of always making you hungry – of how it’s written. Julie is incredibly funny and feisty. She tells the story in a casual, colloquial way, as if she were just talking or journaling about it. I enjoyed the mixture of cooking tutorial and diary of daily life. Although some of the recipes (okay, a lot of the recipes) didn’t sound appealing to me, with recurrent seafood, veal, gelatin and lots of beef, it was fun to read about Julie’s progress through them.

Mainly I got into the book because I got to root for her, and she doesn’t have too much on her side at the beginning: she’s in a dead-end secretarial job, she’s just moved to a new apartment that’s downright awful, she’s not sure if she will be able to have children, and most of her friends and relatives think she’s nuts for attempting this project (which, by the way, comes to her as a completely random idea). The best part of her life by far is her high school sweetheart-husband, Eric, who supports her from the beginning and puts up with her meltdowns and hysterics. By the end of the book, she’s a few pounds heavier and a few hairs grayer, but she’s found her spirit again and she’s found a passion.

And I think that’s what was most exciting to me – I want to have something like that when I’m 30. Naturally, I don’t hope to be unsatisfied with my job and family situation; ideally, I’ll have a rewarding career and beautiful family (in which case I likely would not have time for a project like this). But, as someone who right now is involved in a lot of different activities and projects, I think it will seem strange to me when all I focus on is work and family. I like the idea of taking on various goals just because I’d like to. I want to learn to play some more instruments and speak some more languages; I’d like to do some community theatre and write a memoir. It’s not very original, but I’d like to learn to cook, too. This kind of thing, this random project, can enrich a person’s life without having come from any purpose other than an interest in taking on something new, and I’m hungry for that.


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