Julie & Julia
August 18, 2009
Michael Pollan recently brought up the ironic reality that at the same time The Food Network is gaining popularity cooking is losing steam. He explains that shows like Iron Chef America and The Next Food Network Star only make cooking less accesible. These shows turn cooking into something that only perfessionals do at high speeds and with foreign ingredients–it is a competition. These shows make it seem like cooks are flawless, and have never dropped a potato pancake on the ground.
The truth of the matter is cooking is not easy, and it doesn’t turn out great every time you try. But it is also a rewarding and pleasurable experience. Unlike the cooking shows of today that either resemble sports games or prize fast, easy cooking, the Julia Child show praised skillful preparation and concentrated practice. She showed viewers the challenge of food every step of the way as she waited for hard peaks and collected sweat. But she also showed viewers the joy of preparing meals from wholesome ingredients. As Michael Pollan says, “She tried to show the sort of women who read “The Feminine Mystique” that, far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention. (A man’s too.)” She demonstrated the importance of putting in time to nourish yourself, a task the average American spends only 27 minutes a day on.
The move Julie & Julia was entertaining, quite funny, and inspiring. It embraced the essence of Julia Child: having passion in and dedicating time to cooking. Julie Powell, a young woman with a terrible job and feeling a little lost, takes on a challenge: to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes in 365 days. She not only makes the deadline, but finds herself. This is a perfect time for this film to debut, when people are coming to realize more and more that connecting to their food, and cutting and preparing it with their hands improves the quality of their lives.
Check out the blog Julie Powell wrote while she completed the project, plus Michael Pollan’s article in The New York Times Magazine.