inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #51 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #52 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #53 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #54 of 196: Julie Powell (julie-powell) Mon 8 Sep 03 13:51
    
Awwwwww, but I WANNA....
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #55 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #56 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #57 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #58 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #59 of 196: 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
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #60 of 196: 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.  :-)
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #61 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #62 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #63 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #64 of 196: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #65 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #66 of 196: Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 06:53
    
And yes.  Republicans will eat anything.  Except maybe brains.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #67 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #68 of 196: nico and the cockgobblers (mig) Tue 9 Sep 03 08:10
    

clafoutis are a keeper for me, too. how i love them.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #69 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #70 of 196: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #71 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #72 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #73 of 196: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #74 of 196: Julie Powell (julie-powell) Tue 9 Sep 03 14:10
    
Yeah, that's what they tell me.
  
inkwell.vue.195 : Julie Powell: The Julie/Julia Project
permalink #75 of 196: 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.
  

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