Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bloggee and Blogger

A few words now about bloggers and the movies that are made about them.

I just returned from taking my almost-nine-year old to see "Julie and Julia." You could argue that this movie was not entirely appropriate for a boy his age to see on a Saturday night, but let me just say that our younger son loves to make breakfast and he liked the movie a lot. And I felt like friggin' "Mother of the Year" when on our way out, we saw a friend with her two boys---9 and 12---and they had just finished watching"Hangover."

I love Nora Ephron and I LOVE Julia Child. My mother says she learned to cook by watching Julia cook on TV. Mom kept a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking on her bookshelf in the den and though I know she cooked from it from time to time, it was Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cookbook that had a permanent place in our kitchen. My mother even managed to have Craig Claiborne drive out to our house for lunch, take Mom's picture and write about the experience in The New York Times.

Other than the fact that we both have blogs and we both like to cook, I am nothing like Julie Powell. The only Julia Child recipe I can remember making was one for coq au vin, and I made it one summer a few years ago when we were renting a house in Long Beach Island. The house had a well-worn copy of Mastering the Art, and I thought I should get to know it. But I have read a lot of the recipes in Mastering the Art, and even more than her recipes, I love the idea of Julia Child---witty, honest, irreverent, in love with French food and determined to be more than an idle housewife in Paris---and I love reading about her. Last year, I read a memoir by her editor Judith Jones, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, and the book was so good, I thought that I really should teach a class about cooking and love and why writing about them both is so delicious. (Instead, I assigned my students one of MFK Fisher's essays about what a great and frugal cook her first Parisian landlord was. The essay was from from The Gastronomical Me---Fisher's book about living and cooking in France with her husband.)

But I digress. "Julie and Julia" was wonderful in some ways---Meryl Streep embodied Julia Child to such perfection that I actually forgot what Julia Child looked and sounded like in real life. Amy Adams was nothing special as Julie Powell; she doesn't have the star power to compensate for the bad haircut and dowdy aprons that Nora Ephron sticks her with. In my humble opinion, Jennifer Aniston or Kate Hudson would have been more fun to watch. But Meryl as Julia was tall, robust, self-deprecating, funny and passionate. She giggled like a schoolgirl and her love (and lust) for her husband Paul/Stanley Tucci was palpable. The movie reminded me how much pleasure there is to be had in cooking---and writing about it---with the added pleasure of having the man you love eat that food and cheer you on.

I haven't been writing much lately---my sons returned from sleepaway camp two weeks ago, so I have been driving them to basketball camp, baseball camp, the pediatrician and the pool. I've been opening up RSVP cards for our older son's bar mitzvah, and getting ready to teach a journalism class at a local college in a few weeks. It's the first class I've taught that actually requires a textbook (as opposed to giving out xeroxes of short stories and essays that I love) so it's requiring a bit more, uh, work than I'm used to.

Come to think of it, I haven't written or cooked much lately either. But watching "Julie and Julia" really made me want to go home and write, and though that was probably not Nora Ephron's point in making it, not many movies can pull that off.

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