When Julie Powell started her blog in 2002 to record her planned yearlong odyssey to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking I doubt she ever thought, even in her wildest dreams, that her musings would cause her to become an internet celebrity, but that is what happened - as the months went by and she moved from creating a simple but sublime vichyssoise (leak and potato soup) to the increasingly intricate recipes her audience grew and grew, attracted by her easy to read style which (as the book blurb puts it) has the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs.
If you're a keen home cook or a fan of memoirs real or fictionalized such as Bridget Jones, this is one for you; and with the holiday season coming up dangerously soon, you might also want to keep a note of Julie & Julia as a potential gift item for a domesticated relative - perhaps paired with Julia Child's autobiography My Life In France (with the caveat that Julia Child, who died while Julie was working her way through The Art of French Cookery, wasn't a fan of Julie or her project!)
If you're looking for Julie's blog you'll find it at Blogspot - but it starts in August 2005; there are a couple of postings from 2004 at Salon but I cannot locate the earlier postings - which were probably taken offline when the book was released so that people had a reason to buy the book instead of just reading the blog!
Did you know?
The history of vichyssoise is quite controversial - some contend that the soup was created by Louis Diat in 1917 to celebrate the opening of his rooftop restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in New York; others say that it was the French chef, Jules Gouffe, who created the first recipe and published it in Royal Cookery (1869). A likely version is that Diat borrowed the idea of the soup from earlier generations but added his own innovation by serving it cold, and named it after the town of his birth, Vichy in France. To my mind, laying claim to be the creator of any recipe seems to be a stretch - after all, it seems likely that at some point somewhere a humble housewife would have found herself with a glut of potatoes and leaks and flung both of them into the pot for supper - and out would have come leak and potato soup!
This review was originally published in October 2005, and has been updated for the September 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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