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HOT: Julie & Julia

Of course I enjoyed Julie & Julia. I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to blog. I have a very understanding partner. I work in an office and I’m a Francophile. The only difference is that I’ve never lived in Paris or New York City and I’ve never deboned a duck.

Julie & Julia is a warm-hearted story of two women living in different times and different places, connected together by their love of food and the sense of purpose that their cooking brings to their lives. Julia Child’s story is based on the memoirs of the legendary American chef My Life in France while Julie Powell’s story is based on her book Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (later Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously).

Meryl Streep does a star turn as the overblown, trumpet-voiced Julia Childs, the doyenne of American TV chefs who taught housewives without servants how to ‘Master the Art of French Cooking’. Her story in itself is quite inspirational – she married an American diplomat at old-maid age and fell into cooking (and studying at Le Cordon Bleu) after finding herself at a loose end in Paris, where her husband was stationed in the 50s. By chance she met her future collaborators and for the next eight years they worked over the cookbook that would change the way in which Americans ate, shopped and viewed food. Her obviously sensual delight in food, cooking, people and her husband made me want to be her friend.

In contrast Julie Powell (Amy Adams) was a relatively bland character who found fame through the personal revelations in her 2002 blog The Julie/Julia Project, which described her mission to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s classic tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. Julie could be me, or really any of us – she works in a cubicle job, is sometimes moody and unreasonable, has meltdowns over cooking disasters and is proud of her cooking achievements. If you read her blog, she’s actually much wittier and cutting than she’s portrayed in the film.

The best thing about the movie is that it’s a visual feast of French deliciousness – there’s so much melting butter, pastry and poultry that you can practically smell the kitchen aromas emanating from Julia’s famous made-to-measure kitchen and Julie’s pokey Queens walk-up. In these parallel worlds, everything has a soft silkiness to it, like a perfect crème caramel, and nothing ever goes so really badly wrong (even an overcooked boeuf bourguignon) that can’t be saved by a creamy lobster mornay or a chocolate cake. Le Creuset cookware really should have received a supporting role in the credits.

Of course there’s a happy ending – Julie doesn’t just disappear into the blogosphere, never to be heard of again. She gets an agent. And a book deal. And a movie! Maybe it’s time to start dreaming about Julie, Julia and Joyce?

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