Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Summary: A culinary legend provides a frustrated office
worker with a new “recipe” for life in “Julie & Julia,”
the true stories of how Julia Child’s (played remarkably by the talented Meryl
Streep) life and cookbook inspired fledgling writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to
whip up 524 recipes in 365 days and write about it. Based on Powell’s 2005 book
by the same name.
Review: This wasn’t on my must-see list for theatrical releases,
which is a shame, because “Julie & Julia” is a truly enjoyable
gem. While not a fan of French food, I still loved watching the real 6’2″
Julia Child on television’s “The French Chef” when I was a kid,
whipping up these ridiculously complex meals in what seemed like complete ease.
I’d try to mimic her voice and cooking style when I played pretend kitchen next
to my mom as she cooked dinner.
So while watching “J&J,” I found
myself transported back to those childhood days. This is not uncommon, as food
has the magical ability to do that. Who hasn’t tasted a dish from the past and
sighed in satisfaction as warm memories flooded our minds as the tastes flooded
Fans of food, French cooking and Julia Child will love this film by
Nora Ephron. OK, some true Child fans may hate that some blogger tried to capitalize on Child’s creations in a sort of marathon cooking session. But if you watch it as a tribute to Child, you’ll enjoy
“J&J.” It’s that good. Thanks, in no small part, to Streep’s
incredible acting chops. She portrays Child down to the syllable, and she does
it with respect and clarity. The only drawback here is that there wasn’t ENOUGH
of her on the screen. Adams was good as real-life writer Powell, but that
character wasn’t nearly as interesting as the iconic gourmand.
I wanted to see more of Julia, her life and her struggles.
This film would have even worked as a biopic of the late chef. Many, many
people in the industry and beyond loved her and wanted to see more of her.
“This film is an homage to Julia,” said Susan
Spungen, the food stylist on “Julie & Julia.”
Friend and fellow chef Jacques Pepin remembers Child and the
times he worked with her since the 1960s fondly.
“You have to be happy when you cook and you have to be
happy when you eat. She had that type of attitude,” he said.
Nancy Silverton, chef of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, said
her first recollection of Child dates back when Silverton was a child and her
mom studied “Mastering Art of French Cooking.”
“The memory of the joy she gave my mother when my
mother proudly served her first roast chicken” is her favorite memory, she
said. “I can still see the sparkle in my mother’s eye as she served
Extra highlight: “Family & Friends Remember Julia Child” – Julia’s closest
family and friends tell us about the woman they knew and loved.
What to serve for dinner: This is going to be fun, because
the movie is guaranteed to make you hungry. Many of Child’s chef friends
recommend cracking open “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and
picking out anything. But the overwhelming favorite is a roast chicken. You can
pair it with potatoes sauted in butter (“Mastering the Art of French
Cooking” page 526) or peas (page 481). (“Mastering the Art of French
Cooking” and Recipezaar.com.)
3 lbs broiler-fryer chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 small carrot, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon minced shallot or green onion
1 cup brown chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1-2 tablespoon softened butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the
chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and then smear in one tablespoon of the butter.
Truss and dry the chicken, and rub the skin with the other half of the butter.
Melt butter in a small saucepan with cooking oil. Leave on
stovetop with a basting brush for later use.
Now back to the chicken: Place the chicken, breast side up,
in a shallow small roasting pan. Scatter the veggies around it, and set it on
the rack in the preheated oven. Allow the chicken to brown slightly for 15
minutes, turning on the left side after five minutes, then onto the right side
for the last five minutes. Baste with butter quickly after each turn so that
the oven does not lose a lot of heat. Reduce heat to 350. Leave chicken on its
side, baste every 8 to 10 minutes, using the butter in the bottom of the
roasting pan once you have used up all of the baste in your bowl. Watch and
adjust oven heat so that the chicken is noisy, but fat is not burning. Halfway
through estimated roasting time (which is 70-80 minutes; so after about 35
minutes), salt the chicken and turn it onto its other side.
Continue to baste regularly. At 15 minutes before end of
estimated roasting time, salt again and flip chicken breast side up. Continue
to baste. Chicken will be done when drumstick moves easily in socket and juices
run a clear yellow.
Let sit on a platter 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan.
Stir in shallot or onion and cook slowly for one minute. Add stock and boil
rapidly over high heat, scraping up bits that are stuck in the pan with a
wooden spoon. Reduce to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off
heat just before serving, swirl in the last one to two tablespoons butter by
bits until it is absorbed. Pour a spoon of the sauce onto the chicken, then
pour the rest into a gravy boat and serve with the chicken.
What to talk about over dinner: What is your favorite thing
to cook? Your favorite style of food? Would you ever try to cook the entire
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook? Any cookbook? Do you
think all of those “30-minute meals” have ruined the art of cooking?
Have we as a society lost the sacred act of cooking and eating as a family? Who
taught you to cook? What are some of your cooking accomplishments? Disasters?
(My homemade cornbread was so epically horrid, the story is still told around
the Thanksgiving table.) Have you learned anything from Julia Child? Do you think
this would have been a better biopic flick? What can’t Meryl Streep do? If you
could cook one dish perfectly, what would it be? Why?