Julie/Julia?

Someone asked me the other day if I’d seen the Julie/Julia blog. I’ll have to confess to only having been dimly aware of it. So I’ve now had a good read of the original, and was suitably impressed and awed. I’m also relieved that my blog is nothing like it, and has some very different aims.

Here’s the story. In 2003, Julie Powell completed a Herculanean labour: cooking all of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, during the course of a single year. Whether it was bisecting lobsters, braising sweetbreads, learning to eat vegetables, or making her way through an estimated thirty kilograms of butter in twelve months, she blogged about it. Every single recipe.

It can be a sweary potty-mouthed rantfest at times, especially when she goes anywhere near the subway. Vulgarity is an excellent literary technique but, like wild rocket, one wants to find a leaf here and there, rather than in every morsel of every course.

It’s lighter on the information side. One of the great things that can happen when a non-professional cook writes about cooking, is that we get to see how a mere mortal, with normal equipment and basic training, manages to negotiate these things. Tricks that would be second nature for a pro (and often omitted) are brought forth as useful revelations. Recipes that dirty every pot and surface on the premises are named and shamed. Here, we get a fair amount of moaning when things go wrong, but very little enlightenment. (Although I too have flipped an omelette onto the adjacent gas burner; I laughed rather than cried.)

I’ve already said I’m impressed by her dedication, and in awe of the sheer skill and effort of her accomplishment, but I’m not convinced she actually enjoyed very much of it. I need to enjoy it. There is nothing worse than cooking a meal and being so traumatised or tired that I can’t appreciate it, especially if there are guests.

This blog isn’t meant to be a life changing thing. There will be no book deal. There will be no movie. Your televisions are not ready for my face. I am not going to indulge in the relentless self promotion that characterises most of the blogosphere, because, frankly, there are better things to do. Like cooking and eating, and writing about it when I think you might find it interesting or useful.

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