Monday, 2 June 2008

Book review: Julie & Julia – My year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell

Hello there, this should be just a quick post to let you know that I’m still alive, and at least vaguely active in blog terms. In real life terms I’m not even vaguely active owing to horrible hayfever. I must confess that I’m sadly not cooking anything at the moment, living back with the parents seems to have squashed my culinary desires – or that might just be the three hours of commuting each day – who knows! I am planning some cupcakes in advance of a barbecue next weekend; well I haven’t made them for ages and I’m supposed to be meeting some of the boyfriend’s friends – I figure full Domestic Goddess mode should win me some Brownie points. I’m not entirely sure on my icing plans – and in fact am contemplating chocolate cupcakes following the 'Epic return to NY' which did allow me to extend my cupcake experience to include chocolate. Verdict: the ultimate cure for PMT or infact probably any female hormonal fluctuation at all. So I would suggest that they should be available on prescription.

Anyway, the void that not cooking has left in my life has been filled by other exciting activities such as working overtime, watching dreadful television, and in order that I don’t kill off all my brain cells (well you never know when you might need them again) reading. Seeing as cookery books are the equivalent of porn for me, and so reading and not being able to cook is a bit like… yes I think I’ll stop that metaphor right there. So having decided that it was too depressing to read cookery books, I found the above novel at my library. As I’m doing a lot of travelling at the moment… Have I mentioned the hideous commute? Have I? Because it is, totally hideous, and if it weren’t for my ipod, *cough*Haribo*cough* and books I would have been arrested for crimes against commuters by now. As an entirely non foodie aside: commuters of London, please read this and WASH in the mornings, listen to your ipods at a reasonable volume and don’t shout down the phone at your erstwhile and no doubt loving families. Thank you. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes… As I’m doing a lot of travelling at the moment… I’m reading a lot, and Julie and Julia provided me with much entertainment over the last week.

In short the novel is one woman (Julie Powell’s) attempt to cook the 524 recipes from Julia Child’s 1961 classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What ensues is a painfully funny tale of splitting marrowbones, swearing furiously at pastry, and being reduced to tears by things that require gelling or setting. I feel her pain. My hands + pastry = complete and utter unmitigating disaster... It is also an interesting and sensitive insight into the way a passion or interest (or even an all consuming obsession) can be used as a successful distraction from other parts of our life that aren’t working quite so well. And how something that seems like a little change can turn your life around.

I would really recommend the book, to anyone that blogs about food – not only is it witty and amusing, but in those moments where you know you’ve mentioned that you’re planning on trying something particularly tricky and now have to follow through when all you really want to do is eat your own bodyweight in Jaffa cakes and order a takeaway I felt a camaraderie, a fellowship if you like with Julie and the mission she set herself.
In other news, flathunting is still continuing (currently fruitlessly but I refuse to give up hope entirely) and I do have some NY food pictures to post at some point. Promises, promises you may well say, but I do mean it. Honest!


Anonymous said...

Yay, you're back! Sorry to hear you've not been feeling very well, I hear honey is very good for hayfever :)

I've picked this book up a few times but never actually purchased it, thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out next time I'm at a bookshop.

Good luck with your cupcakes :)


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Nice to see you back :) hope the hayfever clears up asap! I've heard a lot about this particular book, sounds very interesting...and I so know what you mean about reading cookbooks but being unable to cook! Get well soon!

Margaret said...

Have just come across your blog - I have just read with interest your review: Julie & Julia.
I think you have just inspired me to get this book.


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