A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
This book was different than I expected. I was imagining a restaurant worker creating fancy recipes to show they had more skill than were given credit for. Instead, it was a secretary who is having a mid-life crisis(at 30) and decides to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s iconic first cookbook and blog about it. She’s new to blogging culture and calls her readers “bleaders”, one of many funny comments.
Thankfully, there were no recipes in this book, just the experiences of cooking (sometimes using unfamiliar and hard-to-obtain ingredients), the difficulty of some of the dishes and her family and friends’ responses to it all.Her husband, Eric, is extremely supportive of her project and even washes the dishes much of the time. The kitchen adventures are interspersed with childhood memories, stories of friends and household disasters in their crumbling loft apartment in New York City, where the plumbing often refuses to work.
I didn’t feel an urge to try cooking any of the recipes, though I could see how some people might. Her determination to cook the whole book impressed me, though as time went on and her stress level rose, I wondered if she would finish or have a breakdown first. Some of the dishes really didn’t seem worth all of the trouble they took to make, but then, I’m a humble eater. In fact, I couldn’t handle the descriptions of many of the meat preparations, from trussed chickens to boiling calves hooves for aspic. I had to skip the section dealing with lobsters altogether, especially when she insisted on cooking them alive. After all the other yukky things she did, her cowardice in not killing them before boiling was immature.
Powell’s real job was with an unidentified government agency dealing with the 9/11 Twin Towers tragedy: PR duties, dealing with the families, reviewing suggestions for a memorial. In some ways, this was more interesting than the cooking project. Her ongoing crush on the actor David Strathairn was amusing and I cheered when she saw him eating cookies that she had made and delivered to the theater he was performing at.
Towards the end of the book, the author reaches new neurotic heights, even as her blog is gaining fame and prominence, leading to magazine articles and interviews. Eventually, it led to a movie version of this book (which I still haven’t seen). The last part loses its way a bit, but wasn’t enough to ruin an entertaining account of a type of endurance usually reserved for sporting events.
Little, Brown & Co. 2005 321 pp. ISBN-13:978-0316109697
Jackie’s sister calls her the Pasta Princess because of how often she makes macaroni and spaghetti. Not sure if it’s an insult or compliment.