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Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 031604251X
ISBN-13: 9780316042512
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: July, 2009
Length: 400 Pages
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Dimensions: 6.5 X 4.5 X 0.5 inches
Language: English
   
   

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

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Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell's attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days. The result is a masterful medley of Bridget Jones' Diary meets Like Water for Choco...
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55

Customer Reviews

  Excellent Read. You won't even miss the recipes. Buy It.

`Julie & Julia' by Julie Powell is a new and welcome addition to a very select class of culinary writing, the `Personal Memoir'. The only other work I know in this entertaining genre is Amanda Hesser's `Cooking for Mr. Latte'.

The most important thing both books have in common is that neither offers you serious culinary advice. While Ms. Hesser's book has a goodly number of recipes, she presents them more as a look inside her personal favorites than as a major culinary reference. Ms. Powell's book has no recipes, as all the recipes in question come from Julia Child's first and most famous book, `Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. Both share that exquisite charm in revealing cooking disasters. Ms. Hesser's revelations are a bit more satisfying, as she is a culinary professional at the time of her writing the book.

Ms. Powell embarked upon the quest leading to this volume while she was a temporary secretary at an unnamed federal agency dealing with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. She was living with her husband in a smallish and cantankerous apartment in Long Island City (Queens) and was finding herself in need of a direction in life. Since she also felt the need to learn how to cook better, she hit upon the project of cooking every single recipe from Julia Child et al's masterpiece, generally referred to as `MtAoFC'. There is an odd parallel with Child's life here in that Julia Child took up cooking after World War II and shortly after marrying Paul Child and moving to Paris, where Child was posted with the U.S. Embassy. This left Julia at loose ends, especially after having filled an important and satisfying role in the OSS (Office of Special Services, forerunner of the CIA) during the war, in Ceylon, where she met her future husband.

To make this project even more interesting to our current author, she decided to announce the project to the world on an Internet blog and on it record her progress, with the ambition to complete all 524 recipes in one year (365 days). Thus, the lion's share of this book is anecdotes on the preparation of selected recipes or groups of recipes from `MtAoFC'. Note that Ms. Powell's `MtAoFC' is really just Volume I and not both volumes.

If nothing else, this book is a confirmation of just how huge a cultural, or at least culinary icon is this cookbook by J. Child, S. Beck, and L. Bertholle. Ms. Powell's book would not be half as interesting if it were done on the basis of virtually any other cookbook which comes to mind.

I have enormous respect for Ms. Powell's integrity in working through all the recipes in the manner she did, as the author resorted to very few shortcuts, at least on the first or second time with each technique. The fact that the author and her cohorts took the trouble to track down marrow bones and calves hooves made for a doubly interesting story, even if one suspects that the culinary results may not have suffered one wit if the author had relied on Knox unflavored gelatin rather than taking the effort to render gelatin from an authentic animal source. What may be a little surprising is the difficulty Ms. Powell and company had in finding some of the ingredients in New York City, but then, none of them were culinary professionals familiar with insiders' knowledge of Gotham's provisioners.

Unlike Ms. Hesser, Julie Powell had no direct contact with her subject, Julia Child. The only documented contact was a short note from Ms. Child to Ms. Powell wishing here well and expressing gratitude that Ms. Child's work had a positive effect on Ms. Powell. Since Ms. Powell's culinary Labors of Hercules were finished in August 2003; this event roughly coincided with the death of Julia Child. It is understandable that this event had less emotional effect on the author than it did on some of the author's family.

In writing this book, Ms. Powell got access to letters between Paul Child and his future bride and wife, Julia McWilliams / Julia Child and publishes a selection of these letters from 1944 in Ceylon to 1949 in Paris. While I am familiar with much of the general information in these letters from reading Julia Child's biography, `An Appetite for Life', some of the details of the salty language used between the lovers is almost worth the price of admission.

Some of you who have little taste for culinary memoirs may react to the notion of book with indifference, but I do suggest you consider it if you have any thoughts of embarking upon making any recipes from `MtAoFC'. I should also warn you that Ms. Powell's chapters often deal with some of the most difficult recipes in `MtAoFC', as it is the problems arising out of these which make the best reading. My own experience with Ms. Child's book is that most of the recipes are, indeed, relatively simple. But, as Ms. Powell clearly states, echoing an important precis by Richard Olney in `Simple French Food', `simple' is NOT the same as easy, and nothing worth doing is likely to come easy to the inexperienced.

Ms. Powell (and her copy editing handlers at publisher, Little Brown seem to be much more experienced at writing than they are at cooking, as Ms. Powell's exploits make good, if not necessarily scintillating reading. Like the candid comments from Paul Child's letters, Ms. Powell seems to have held little back, except for those confidences connected with her government job and the identity of her friends.

Ms. Powell is not quite the expert writer like M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, or Amanda Hesser for that matter, but her stuff is engaging. I was just surprised Ms. Powell did not give us the URL for her blog or the page references in `MtAoFC' for her recipes used in each chapter.
 
  Great book!

Terrific book about New York City, marriage, family, careers (or lack thereof), blogging and, oh yes, a bit about cooking. There are a lot of negative reviews of the hardcover version from readers who thought it was a serious food memoir or even a cookbook. The paperback version has modified the title and it is packaged in a "chick lit" style. I'm not usually a fan of serious food books, or of chick lit, but I do live in NYC and am a JC fan. I loved this book and found it laugh out loud funny and am giving it to several friends and family. Very highly recommended.
 
  A joyful coming-of-age in the kitchen

After reading The Perfectionist, which I found rather one-dimensional and joyless, turning to Julie Powell's account of cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking was quite a treat. It was refreshing to find she does not take herself too seriously, and I found myself wishing I'd known about the blog while she was doing The Project (as she calls it). One can tell that reading the book is a different, less personal experience than the day-to-day account on the blog must have been.

In any case, although there isn't an overwhelming amount of technical detail about the dishes Powell prepared, it's interesting to follow her journey through one of the best-known cookbooks, seeing her development both as a cook and a human being. Definitely recommended -- a very enjoyable read.
 
  COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN

I absolutely loved this book. I got it last Thurs (8/6) and finished it Saturday morning (8/8). I was sorry to see it end. I almost didn't buy it because of many critical negative comments posted here. I found most of the comments to be totally off-base. After reading the book, I am wondering if maybe many of those negative comments were from conservative republican extremist types who didn't like Julie's occasional digs at their ilk. The many comments about profanity also puzzled me. Yeah, she threw in the f-word here and there. But, it certainly wasn't gratuitous! I am surprised at how easily offended many of the readers of this book were. I don't get it. If you are at all open-minded and enjoy life and cooking then I whole-heartedly endorse this quick, easy, joyful, happy read! Just enjoy and don't take anything in the book (or yourself) too seriously!
 
  For those who hate their jobs, and love to cook

I first read this book as it's hardback version. When it came out in the newly titled paperback, I couldn't resist rereading it. I should also mention I've given this book to several friends and relatives who have all enjoyed it as well.

The premise of this book is quite interesting - a woman who is looking for direction in her life stumbles across her mother's old, hardback copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and has an epiphany. She decides, that in one year, she will cook all 524 recipes in the book, and write about her experiences in a blog - still a relatively new "art" form at that time.

The resulting blog, and book, are filled with lustily-written passages describing cooking; her rather surreal job at an unnamed government job; (Something to do with designing a new memorial building at the Twin Towers Site post 9/11); her interesting, bohemian friends and their escapades; and her marriage. Her writing is full of angst, passion, and verve. All-in-all, a highly entertaining read.

The recipes, as such, are limited. This is not a cookbook. This is a memoir of cooking. This is a memoir of life. This is a memoir of joie-de-vivre. This is a book that has more to do with discovering that while you can hate your job, your coworkers and where your life is going, you can love to cook, love your husband, love your friends, and that, in the end, is what matters.

Enjoy the read, enjoy the ride!