Food Is Gender Neutral!

On our way to the movie theater on Saturday, Loren and I stopped by one of those retail carts in the open-air gloriousness that is The Americana on Brand, where I bought a protective case and screen for my new Palm Pre. (Be jealous, bitches! This smartphone is probably smarter than you are!)

When I told the salesgirl that she didn't have to put the case on for me because we were on our way to a movie, she asked which one. I told her Julie & Julia. She was genuinely surprised. "I didn't think a couple of guys would want to go see that." Loren and I looked at each other knowingly, and I contemplated doing a pirouette and exclaiming, "Hell-oooooooooo!"

I could gush about Meryl Streep's performance, but that would be predictable, wouldn't it? Let me just briefly state that Streep's embodiment of cooking sensation and outsized personality Julia Child is at once an exuberant imitation and a heartfelt tribute that suggests hidden depths. (Not too many hidden depths, though, because Child almost always wore her heart on her apron.)

The Julia Child half of the movie is unarguably the more interesting half, and it took me a long time to warm up to the "Julie" half, which is about blogger Julie Powell and her stunt of documenting online her attempt to cook every recipe from Child's groundbreaking Mastering the Art of French Cooking within a year's time.

While I would've been perfectly content watching the Julia Child story unfold for the entire two hours, Julie & Julia is, notably, perhaps the first feature film ever about a blogger. And it does manage to capture the highs, lows, and obsessiveness that can come with blogging—the joy of that first comment from a stranger, the evaluation involved in figuring out how much of your personal life you can write about, the dedication you feel to readers you don't know.

And despite its seeming superfluousness, what the Julie half of the film also provides is a fascinating contrast between eras—between being a writer (and a woman) at the midpoint of the 20th century and at the beginning of 21st century.

It took Julia Child 10 years to type Mastering the Art of French Cooking on onion skin paper and eventually get it published. It took Julie Powell mere minutes to set up a blog on her computer (it's still up, by the way) and a year to land a book deal. While I can see the benefits of an accelerated time frame for success (it's what all writers dream about, after all), I wonder what gets lost while we're speeding. After all, Beef Bourguignon takes hours to prepare and cook. Its texture, its flavor, the love that went into making it—all that can be experienced only if the chef takes her damn sweet time.


  1. Have you heard of the "Bechdel Rule" for movies (coined by Dykes to Watch Out For artist/writer Alison Bechdel)? As I understand it, it radically demands that a movie:

    1) have more than one female character,
    2) have them talk to each other
    3) but not about guys.

    It seems like Julie & Julia might fit the bill (if they sort of talk to each other across time). And of course the phone girl would assume that no guy would want to see such a movie.

  2. I think this fits the Bechdel Rule! Who knew this was a movie made for lesbians?!