I’m sure that the movie theaters were crowded with adoring foodies this weekend with the release of Julie and Julia. I couldn’t wait to see it, as I (and probably most other food bloggers) feel they could identify so keenly with the film and characters.
The film centers on a woman named Julie, who works a drab government day job in a small cubicle where she’s berated on the phone all day long by people angry about things completely out of her control. She feels very alone in a new place and doesn’t really like much about her life. The one place she finds peace is at home with her husband and in cooking. To paraphrase, she says something along the lines of “you know what I love about cooking? It’s that no matter how crazy and unpredictable your day is, you know that at the end of the day, if you mix egg yolks with chocolate, sugar, and butter, it will thicken.”
The movie hops back and forth between Julie and Julia Child, as she (Child) discovers her passion and talent for cooking. I felt that I identified so very much with Julia Child the entire movie. I got a little misty sometimes thinking about just how much it felt like watching a version of me and Michael on screen. I’m blessed with a wonderful, talented, sweet, thoughtful husband who (for reasons yet unknown) adores me. And I had never planned on becoming a career woman, so when placed in a situation where I need to be one (at least for a while), I don’t know what to do with myself. I loved my college studies in Public Health and loved my internship in worksite wellness, but there aren’t many jobs open right now in that field, so my sights have to be turned elsewhere, and I just don’t know where they should be turned.
Julia: Well, what should I do?
Paul: What do you mean?
Julia: Well, shouldn’t I find something to do? The other ladies sit about all day with nothing to do. That’s just not me; I need to find something to do.
Paul: Well, what is it you like to do?
Paul: And you’re so good at it!
Julia: I am! I am!
Paul: You are! You are!
Julia: I’m just growing in front of you!
Eventually, Julia discovers the local cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu (now the most famous school on the planet). The courses offered for the public are incredibly (almost embarrassingly) basic—how to boil an egg, etc. So, she enrolls as a student, and finds her calling. She adores the art of cooking and the comfort, and the smells, and the eating. What I love about her is that she doesn’t always do things perfectly—she breaks an omelet while she flips it, she didn’t always dice onions at the speed of light, etc.
I could go on and on, but basically, I feel like what I love to do is cook and bake. Especially in a time where people rely so often on pre-packaged and convenience foods. I feel like we’ve lost the art of cooking. That we seem so busy, we can’t find the time to cook anymore.
And that’s what I love about it, I guess.
I love that when I’ve had a horrible day, I know that I have ingredients in the refrigerator and cupboards waiting for me to turn them into something. I love cooking the slow way. I love the process of dicing vegetables and the smell of things sautéing in butter or olive oil. I love the crunch of perfect French bread crust, the rich taste of homemade chicken stock, the feeling of coarse salt and pepper, the motion of kneading dough, and the discovery of different colors of vegetables to try.
It’s something that’s harder and harder to find. I read cookbooks constantly, and I love discovering a cookbook that doesn’t call for a can of anything. It might be silly, but I love it. It’s not that I’m against canned things, but I love the feeling and smell and taste of a freshly-prepared meal. I love making things from scratch and having a house that smells like homemade bread or freshly baked cookies or pies.
It’s absolutely true that cooking this way takes time, but I find that it’s so worth it. Even when I was going to school full time, working part-time, and interning part-time, nothing soothed me like a homemade meal. It’s the one way I can consistently create something. It’s like art to me. I start with something like flour, eggs, spinach, water, and salt, and I end up with fresh spinach pasta. It’s a little mini-miracle in my kitchen.
It’s the reason I started this blog. It’s a way of documenting the little adventures I have in my kitchen and the successes I have when I’m trying. It’s the reason I think I’ll never give up cooking until I’m physically unable. It’s a present to myself and my husband that I get to give almost every day.
Anyway, if you have interest in food, you should really see Julie and Julia. And then come home and make Boeuf Bourguignon. And Apple Tartin.