Sunday, August 16, 2009

Celluloid Julia Love

Julia Child has just been introduced to an entirely new generation of cooks thanks to the yummy film, Julie & Julia. I finally got to see it yesterday, and not since Big Night has a movie made me so hungry. With Big Night I wanted that perfect risotto into which Primo pours his heart and soul. With J&J, I want the boeuf bourguignon or that duck en croute thing she made at the end. Bird stuffed with something delicious, butter, and wrapped in pastry? Yes please.

In my opinion, Hollywood isn't very nice to food. In movies or tv - food shows aside - there is often food, preparation of food, sitting down to eat, or whatnot, but very little eating of food. The food is usually more of a prop in the scene or simply a mechanism for that particular scene. Doesn't Hollywood know how much people love food?

Food is handled a little better in books. My favorite non-food books that describe food are the ones in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain). The food is in those stories not because it is essential to the story - they are certainly NOT stories about food - but because it's essential for the characters to survive. It's always simple, hearty, sometimes meager, food of cowboys - beans, coffee, tortillas, or eggs if they happen to be in town. But it makes me hungry and I can smell the beans on the campfire.

In Julie & Julia - both the book and the film - food is a co-starring with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I read the book a couple months ago, and thought it was just okay. I liked certain things about it, but I really couldn't stand the author, Julie. After seeing the movie, I still don't like Julie at all. Whiny, depressed, self-centered, not very nice, and fame-seeking Julie is. Julia, however, is impossible not to love. She's warm, smart, focused, fearless, and jolly. Maryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and I thought she did a very good job portraying another legend. How does she do it so well? I did think she got dangerously close to becoming a caricature of Julia, but managed to reel it in just enough to prevent that from happening. I found myself forgetting it was an actress playing Julia and not Julia herself up on that screen. I loved the all-too-short scenes when Julia's sister (played by the always funny Jane Lynch) and Julie's friend, Sarah (played by 24 favorite and comedienne Mary Lynn Rajskub). I also really liked the Simone Beck role and the actress who played it.

I would have loved to have 2 hours of a Julia biopic rather than the spliced story, but overall I enjoyed it very much. In addition to the appetite I got as a result of watching the movie, I also learned that Paris makes everything more delicious, and copper is obviously the only thing to use for pots & pans. I would love all that copper, but I wouldn't want to clean it.

Tonight, alas, I am not making anything French. Italian actually. After a glut of left overs last week, I did not need to make the ricotta gnocci, so it is on the menu tonight. I made my ricotta a couple days ago (will be covered in another post) and tonight I will actually make the gnocci and cook it. Shouldn't take too long. The lemon vinaigrette for salad is already finished. And the Dutch baby, well, that might be dessert.

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