cookie (wiggly) Mon 8 Sep 03 12:56
The community that formed around the blog was an integral part of the story. Moral support, roast-tying tutorials, care packages, and donations when low coffers were delaying the J/JP all contributed to the blog's evolution. Did your previous blogging experience (reading or writing) lead you to suspect that a community would develop and influence the project?
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Mon 8 Sep 03 13:03
I had no clue. I was a blogging no-nothing coming into this. It's amazing, isn't it? I find myself getting all disturbingly optimistic about the human condition when I think about it. I mean, shit. What'll I do when I can't just hate everybody anymore? That's been a huge part of my charm?
Dan Levy (danlevy) Mon 8 Sep 03 13:12
don't worry about not hating everyone, just don't quit your miserable job and you'll have ample opportunities to hate.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Mon 8 Sep 03 13:51
Awwwwww, but I WANNA....
nico and the cockgobblers (mig) Mon 8 Sep 03 14:21
let's talk a little bit about cooking, shall we? how much did you know about french food when you started this? what were the surprises of the project, in terms of dishes that were more difficult than you expected or not as tasty as you would've wanted? aside from your husband, did you recruit a group of friends to help dispose of all the product of your labors?
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Mon 8 Sep 03 15:37
I'd picked up a bit in my wanderings about French food over the years, not really consciously. Really, if you're really cooking, you can't avoid running into the basic techniques -- rouxes and sauces, and such. My adventures with Paul Prudhomme actually gave me a little hint into French technique. In terms of Not As Tasty -- Julia's persnickety way of turning roast chicken this way and that did not much impress. No better than just shoving the thing in the oven, in my opinion. More Difficult -- the quintessential example of this is Pommes de Terres Sautees, for which Julia wanted me to peel the potatoes and carve them into perfectly smooth oval shapes, so they'd roll in the pan evenly. Roll they did, brown they did, but after an hour and a half of potato carving, I simply didn't give a shit. They difficulty with fobbing food off on people is that I don't have much in the way of friends, so those I do have suffered quite a bit. Em A-W was our most constant French Food (and cigarette providing) companion. Others came when they could, and when I could bear to let people into my filthy apartment. When all else fails, and you have some failed tart or something, I find that Republicans (with which my office is rife) will eat anything.
Dan Levy (danlevy) Mon 8 Sep 03 16:32
Are you calling Republicans a bunch of failed tarts? Speaking about the potato carving, I wonder how much of the techniques in Mastering are really about presentation rather than flavor. If you don't care how your dishes look, is it a lot easier to get the dishes to taste just as good? Now that you're done with this project, which dishes from the book do you think you'll come back to regularly?
cookie (wiggly) Mon 8 Sep 03 18:06
I was surprised you stayed with some techniques as long as you did. Bacon blanching comes to mind.
from DAVID CONCANNON (tnf) Mon 8 Sep 03 18:07
David Concannon writes: Julie, As a follow-up to the previous question, how well had you read MtAoFC before committing to the project? In other words, were you expecting brains, kidney and aspic? Thanks, David
from TONI (tnf) Mon 8 Sep 03 21:58
Toni writes: Dear Julie ... I discovered your wildly entertaining and addictive blog after reading Amanda Hesser's flattering NYT article in August 2003. Having also recently read her book "Cooking for Mr. Latte," I was wondering if her format had any influence on your decision to write a daily blog? Also, it would be fun to hear more details of what you cooked and what happened when she came to dinner at your apartment. As a fellow self-diagnosed people-hater, I am fascinated (and somewhat baffled?) by your frequent dinner invitations to people you did not know very well when you were in the throes of the Julie/Julia Project. P.S. I thumbed through a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" at a used bookstore this past weekend and I am here to say that you have WAY understated the intimidation factor and the sheer force of will you exhibited in this undertaking. Your casual listing of all the required ingredients and intricate procedures inspired me to think that I could maybe do something like this myself, but one brief look at the book proved to me that that would be a "NO." Many, many props to you for sticking with it. P.P.S. I did make your Mom's recipe for Cheese/Rice Krispie wafers and everyone in my family LOVED them! These are destined to become a family tradition. Many thanks. :-)
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:26
Dan -- Well, in the case of the potato carving, I think you've got both a taste and an appearance thing going. Not only to they look like cute burnished eggs, but they also brown more evenly, so you get a nice brown taste and crispy skin, without the char. That said, no, I don't think I'll be doing it much anymore. Char I can live with. Recipes I'll come back to: Roquefort Quiche; most of the quiches, actually. Good stuff. A lot of the soups -- the potato-leek and its variations, the garlic soup and its variations. Very delicious and soothing and good and easy. Crepes both savory and sweet -- I am the crepe queen, as it turns out. Alot of her red meat is great, particularly her stews and daubes. There's one beef stew with tomatoes and garlic and anchovies that is just about the best thing I ever put into my mouth, food-wise. Also her hamburger patties with pork fat mixed in. Duck. Goose. Vegetables a la Grecque. Chocolate mousse and many tarts. And clafoutis, but that's mostly because I like saying clafoutis. I pronounce it "klah-FOO-tiss", even after Amanda Hesser corrected me, because I like it that way.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:30
Cookie, re: the bacon blanching -- much as I bitched and moaned, the fact is that blanching the bacon DOES make it taste less smokey, and sometimes you DON'T want your entire meal to taste of smoke. SOMETIMES. If I had been not lazy/not poor, I might have substituted pancetta for the blanched bacon. As it is, I might now blanch bacon when pancetta is called for and I'm too lazy/poor. Then again, maybe not.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:37
David -- I'd read the book enough to know that all the offal was coming. Actually, that was one of the challenges of the book. I'm a recovering Picky Person, and possess all the righteousness of the breed. I knew that if I could cook my way through MtAoFC, I'd be well on my way to culinary well-roundedness. Not that I'm going to go around eating brains all day. Sweetbreads (which are, by the way, not testicles but thymus gland) are all good, though.
comforting and spicy at the same time (tinymonster) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:49
> I find that Republicans will eat anything This topic is becoming a regular pseud farm!
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:53
Toni -- I haven't read Amanda's book, though I have read excerpts that appeared in the New York Times Magazine, et al. I don't know if I particularly emulate her style or structure in the blog. Certainly the blog was begun with a knowledge of the food writing genre, what I like and hate about it. But I think the blog/diary format had much more to do with my personal writing needs. Contrary to the evidence of The Project, I have very little in the way of will power. The only way I can get myself to do anything at all is to do entirely too much. This is rather a defining trait, actually. So writing daily, dispensing with the editing process, and throwing it out into the ether every morning before my first jolt of caffeine was the routine I devised to keep myself from just slipping into total catatonia. What can I tell you about Amanda? She was great. I was of course terrified -- you know how all the Domestic Goddesses are always talking about how nice it is to have your guests in the kitchen with you, helping out? Well, I hate that shit. And once she showed up, I was afraid for awhile that it wouldn't go well, she seemed at first a little, I don't know, distant or something. But it all loosened up pretty quickly, even if I did make her swelter in our kitchen, and burned the potatoes, and the kidneys weren't all that good. She knows what she's talking about, that Amanda Hesser. It was actually a good time. In general, yes, I hate people, and I hate having them in my house. When a lot of the press people started calling and wanting to come in to my hideous filthy apartment with their klieg lights and their orange makeup, it freaked me out, no doubt. But you know, anything that might eventually get me out of my crap job. Besides, I've noticed that while people in general suck, in particular they're often not that bad. Glad you liked the cheese biscuits. Good stuff.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:53
And yes. Republicans will eat anything. Except maybe brains.
Dan Levy (danlevy) Tue 9 Sep 03 08:08
Do you feel that you have, in fact, mastered the art of French cooking? Is there anything you think Julia et al left out of their book? Do you aspire to master any other cuisines?
nico and the cockgobblers (mig) Tue 9 Sep 03 08:10
clafoutis are a keeper for me, too. how i love them.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 08:25
I don't think that anyone could master the art of any cuisine in a year, certainly not French, and certainly not when doing anything else, say a full time job for instance. But I do think I've got the building blocks -- now that I'm not cooking like a frantic maniac, I am more comfortable in the kitchen, and with recipes, and without recipes. I hope. Learning to cook is like learning any other art -- it's not something you ever finish, really. I'd love more experience with Asian cuisines -- all the crazy powders and sauces and things freak me out -- and of course I will never stop looking for the perfect way to make chicken fried steak.
cookie (wiggly) Tue 9 Sep 03 10:22
Thanks for the pilgrimage report on the blog this morning. I was worried for a minute there that it was going to end with Eric in a windowless room being grilled by several Agent Smith types after the backup stick of butter melted in his pocket and exposed the scheme. If you haven't tried it yet, the chicken-fried steak w/ cream gravy from the Y.O. ranch in Mountain Home, TX is pretty good. The recipe was published in PBS companion book to their Great Chefs of the Southwest series back in the '80s. You mentioned several authors or books along the way, from MFK Fisher to Kitchen Confidential to, of course, MtAoFC. What is on Julie's bookshelf of essential kitchen reading?
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 11:25
I actually haven't ever read Kitchen Confidential, though I do have it. I'll get around to it one of these days. MFK was the first food writer I ever fell in love with. I don't read her that often anymore. I would like to read her translation of Brillat-Savarin. In the realm of food writing, Calvin Trillin, Laurie Colwin, Jeffrey Steingarten and Judith Moore don't make me want to open a vein. Frances Mayes makes me want to open hers. Elizabeth David is good, but scary. I like Amanda Hesser, almost all the time. It's really hard not to sound like an overprivileged prat when you're writing about food. It's like writing about polo or something. For cookbooks, LaRousse Gastronomique is useful. I have a special fondness in my heart for DeGroot, Paul Prudhomme, Marcella Hazan. Nigella Lawson, even. Though she's really more a food writer and a cookbook writer. I am ashamed to say I've never read Escoffier.
charged with insult and flattery (pellmell) Tue 9 Sep 03 12:44
dammit, I have started reading this blog from the beginning now. I am going to be stuck here for weeks.
nico and the cockgobblers (mig) Tue 9 Sep 03 13:43
It's really hard not to sound like an overprivileged prat when you're writing about food. It's like writing about polo or something. --- you'll appreciate Kitchen Confidential, then. it's the opposite of hoity- toity.
Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 14:10
Yeah, that's what they tell me.
nico and the cockgobblers (mig) Tue 9 Sep 03 14:40
despite being a big ol' dyke, i will cop to a sick fascination with the foxy anthony bourdain. i can't help it.
Members: Enter the conference to participate