Last night I finally watched Julie and Julia. When it was in theaters, I never got a chance to go see it, even though I kept hearing rave reviews and even comments like, “OMG, Jill, you would loooooooove that movie!” For my birthday in August, my best friend even gave me the book about which the movie was made and my very own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Well, I missed seeing the movie on the big screen, but as soon as it was released on DVD, it moved to the top of my Netflix queue and arrived yesterday, much to my delight, for my Atlantan Saturday night would be gladly spent inside my cozy Midtown condo with my mini Christmas tree glowing while the freezing rain fell outside. Meryl Streep did not let me down; in fact, I heartily agree with Rolling Stone‘s review: “Meryl Streep is at her brilliant, beguiling best.” The charm of Julia Child was a quality I did not know she had, but the film illuminates her in such a lovely, enchanting way. I was enraptured by her passion for and excitement about food. One of my favorite things about the film was Julia’s (Meryl Streep’s) squealing when she tasted a delicious bite, or saw her sister, or got fantastic news, or was kissed by her sweet husband. She wasn’t afraid to be a presence in the room–standing over 6 feet tall, with wild curly hair, and a warm, kind personality. Oh, how I relate to her!
It’s difficult to explain the thrill I get when I’m cooking. I haven’t had many strong talents in my life, but a few years ago, I realized that I actually am pretty good at making food that people enjoy. It started in college when my three roommates and I would each take a night during the week, and we were in charge of making dinner for all of us. My night was Thursday. Each week there was a silent, unrecognized competition of who could make the best meal. Our cooking assignments not only taught all four of us to push ourselves to cook better food, but it also brought four 19-year-old girls around a wobbly kitchen table four nights a week. Those are some of my favorite college memories.
There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction in taking whole food in-season ingredients, preferably purchased at a farmers’ market, and chopping, slicing, simmering, sauteing, boiling, grilling, mixing, baking, tossing, and creating a delicious meal for myself. But therein lies my barrier to cooking all the time–that last sentence ended with ‘myself.’ The truest joy of cooking lies in making tasty food for someone else, whether my med school student roommate, my coworkers, my friends, or someone special. I rarely go all out with cooking if it’s just for myself. I need an audience! Lots of Yummmms, please! (smile)
Julia Child (in the form of Meryl Streep) has inspired me to take on the challenge of her book–an American woman cooking French food. I am not sure which recipe will be my first attempt, and I am not going to try to be Julie Powell who cooked her way through the book in one year, but I am itching to get in the kitchen and for the first time make a French recipe by the woman who lived out her passion for memorable, stop-you-mid-sentence, close-your-eyes-to-savor-the-moment good food.
I can’t wait to squeal with delight in my kitchen, just like Julia.