Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Life in France by Julia Child

I have to admit, as soon as I saw the previews for the movie Julie & Julia I was all about reading both My Life in France and J&J. I don't think I would've ever read either of these books had the previews for the movie not endeared me so much to Meryl Streep portraying Julia Child.

But oh what a breath of fresh air this book was - and a total surprise.

My love for cooking did not begin until a few years ago so I did not have the pleasure of regularly watching Julia Child on TV. What a sad state of affairs for me. I'm now tempted to search old episodes of her show online to watch her in action.

From the scenes she describes in the book where Julia tirelessly experiments with the scientific aspect of cooking, you come to appreciate how methodical she was - much moreso than I. My approach to cooking has always been to cook by feel, meaning let your nose, eyes, and taste buds guide you on your lofty quest. With that in mind, I'm not sure that I would appreciate her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I certainly appreciate her relationship with food and her desire to learn and make mistakes. In fact, Julia seemed to relish her mistakes because it just meant that she could experiment more. My philosophy of life has always been that it's all about learning from your mistakes, and I so appreciate Julia's willingness to expose her blunders on film for her audience. That really endeared her to me.

I also love that she ended full circle where she comes back to the way the book began. It was impeccably written to remind the reader why she was writing the book in the first place. It also helped us to see how one perfect meal at a restaurant her first night in France was the impetus for her amazing life's journey.

I listened to the audiobook of this memoir and my only criticism of the audio presentation was that the narrator's voice, while pleasant to listen to, did not come close to the distinctness and effervescence of Julia Child's, so sometimes it was difficult to listen and imagine that it was Julia Child telling the story simply because you miss hearing that distinct voice.

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