For 365 days, Julie Powell cooked from Julia Child's seminal cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As she cooked, she blogged about it on a Salon blog. People surfed to the site every day to read about her struggles with Julia Child's recipes and eventually about her drone-like job as a temp, her sometimes rocky marriage, and her sometimes maggot-infested kitchen.
Now, she has a book. Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen has been published and given a hell of a marketing push. I was surprised enough to see the large display of books at Barnes & Noble, but when I saw a half-page ad in the New Yorker for the book, I was floored.
Blogging has clearly been very good to Ms. Powell. She received a reported six-figure advance on the book and has a movie option as well. You'd think she'd be pretty up on the food blogging world, wouldn't you?
I'm a terrible blogger and a terrible citizen of the blogosphere. I'm going to get in a lot of trouble, but the truth is, I actually find most food blogs really boring. I try to look at other people's blogs and they have pretty pictures and they're so proud -- but really, I just don't care. I don't know anything about that person, and I don't know why it's important to them. Food in itself becomes just a mass of prejudices and snobbery and everyone looks like a prat when they write about food.
Source: Salon Premium interview link
And so a "star" forgets "the little people". Ms. Powell, maybe you're unable to appreciate the appeal of food blogs, but there seem to be plenty of people who disagree with you. (And what's up with the word "prat", anyway? You're from Long Island City, not London.)
I have to take a moment to take the Salon interviewer to task as well. The interviewer referred to the food blog community as "insular". I just don't buy that, but I can see why a fan of Ms. Powell's might. The food blog community is supportive. That's why we have group events like Is My Blog Burning? where anyone with or without a blog can participate. That's why we and others post Posts of the Week to help people discover other excellent food blogs. That's why Kip's foodblog and foodpornwatch exist - support and discovery of all the wonderful food blog resources out there. There are no membership cards needed or contracts to sign. Start to post about food and you're in the club.
Go back and read her blog. I followed her off and on. Some of Powell's posts are rather ordinary and some are wonderful. She can be very funny. This post on finding evidence of Julia Child's sex life in her recipes is a good example.
But I find in her Salon interview and her original blog a lack of something essential in her character. I've never felt this was a woman I wanted to spend time with. She's often petty and depressive and, increasingly near the end of the blog, quite self-indulgent and concerned primarily with the mercenary aspects of the project.
She's the kind of friend you might refer to as "bitter Julie" and sometimes just not have the time for. That might make for a good blog or Evelyn Waugh character, but I don't think I want to expose myself to a book length relationship with her.
Personally, I'll await the books from other bloggers who I both like and admire like the long-rumored one from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini, or the electronic books from Tasting Menu. UPDATE: And of course David Lebovitz's Great Book of Chocolate.
Elsewhere on the net, Tigers & Strawberries took apart Julie Powell's New York Times op-ed piece "Don't Get Fresh With Me".
UPDATE: Dr. Biggles in comments reminds me of the excellent Digital Dish!
To order a copy to be shipped within the US for $19.95 plus $5 shipping and handling for 2-day shipping (sales tax added in CA) click here:To order a copy to be shipped outside the US for $19.95 plus $11 shipping and handling for airmail shipping click here: