‘Julie and Julia’: a visual feast

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By Kirsten Laskey

The room that is solely my grandmother’s domain is the kitchen. Her cookbooks fill the counters while photos of family and friends are taped up on the wall by the kitchen sink. Even though she is not cooking anymore, you can still see her puttering around this room.

Since my grandmother’s big love was cooking it really isn’t any surprise the person she adored was Julia Child. My mother told me she even got to meet Child at a department store. The famous writer and cook performed a cooking demonstration and signed copies of her book.

So when my sister and I went to go see “Julie and Julia,” I wished my grandmother would have been able to watch it, too. The film did her idol proud.

Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, a woman who not only co-wrote the groundbreaking “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” but brought her cooking talents to many through a TV show.

Streep is fantastic as Child, who was very distinctive from her whooping voice to her tall, large-framed stature. It wasn’t just her appearance that made her unique. While living in Paris with her husband, Paul, in the 1950s, Child attended cooking school, collaborated with some friends to make “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” a cookbook that allowed everyone, anywhere to make French cuisine, no plane ticket or servant required.

When my sister and I saw snippets of Child’s cooking show on TV, she was much older than when the movie depicted her and therefore, she had a guest chef to pitch in with whatever she was cooking up.

We would giggle that Child seemed to spend more time sampling the food than making it.

Seeing this movie put Child in a whole new light for me. It made me realize just how revolutionary she was to make seemingly inaccessible French recipes available to anyone during a period of time when people dug into marshmallow fluff.

I read a quote from the director, Nora Ephron, that Streep “plays all of us better than we play ourselves,” and seeing the movie, this statement is certainly true. Streep captures Child’s wit, humor and determined spirit to perfection.

What was even better than Child’s skills in the kitchen was her marriage to Paul Child (Stanley Tucci). Your heart turns to butter when you see how much they loved each other.

Child’s story is so great, it didn’t become antiquated over time; her life still has the power to inspire and change people. Take Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a modern-day woman who works in a cubicle but dreams of being a published writer. Child’s cookbook gives her the motivation to pursue this dream. In fact, she maintains a blog documenting her experience creating every single recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Adams is great as Powell and I can certainly relate to trying to get dinner together in a studio apartment’s kitchen that is the size of a broom closet.

Streep’s character may have had the more noteworthy accomplishments but Adams expertly shows Powell’s transformation from a woman riddled with insecurities to a person shining with talent and confidence.

The movie, which is based on Child’s “My Life in France” and Powell’s “Julie and Julia” shifts back and forth between the two true stories, but since there are so many parallels between the two women particularly in the trials and joys of writing, the shifts go smooth as silk,

I woofed down a bag of popcorn while watching this movie, but there really is no need; “Julie and Julia” is a delectable, tasty treat to indulge in. No snack is required.