The book that inspired the hit film!
Talk about bucking the trends. Cookbooks, TV shows and glossy magazines are overflowing with simple recipes for busy professionals lacking the time and desire to serve up elaborate meals after a tough workday. And then there's Julie Powell.
In Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, this secretary/ex-actress describes the impact "butter weight" and all of her attempt to spice up her lackluster life by tackling the entirety of Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking within the space of a year. After work and on weekends, Powell cooks through the classic tome, from the simple Potage Parmentier which inspired the project to Pate de Canard en Croute, a boned stuffed duck baked in pastry that's just the kind of recipe most chefs wouldn't dream of asking their readers to attempt today.
As Julie cooked, she blogged about her efforts, and the Julie/Julia Project steadily gained notoriety. Powell feeds her "bleaders" (blog readers) regular updates and the project becomes a public, as well as a personal mission. Her engaging and informal voice makes her readers feel as if they're full participants, leaning against the fridge watching the latest experiment while chatting about the latest "Buffy" episode or looming pre-midlife crisis. You may be just slightly embarrassed by the state of the kitchen, the mid-recipe freak outs or the arguments with her dishwashing husband, but ultimately Powell's sheer determination and humor win out, and you want to see her succeed. Short, imagined letters between chapters from Paul Child to his wife-to-be seem out of place in this story about a very modern woman, a cookbook and her computer, but when the meal is over, you'll feel satisfied and ready for the next course. Bon appetit!
Megan Brenn-White is the author of Bake Me a Cake: Fun & Easy Treats for Kids (HarperCollins) and writes from a tiny apartment kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.