Pass the popcorn, please. Today is the day that‚Äôs had bibliophiles and foodies salivating all summer.¬† The highly-anticipated movie "Julie & Julia," starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, is opening at theaters across the country, and I for one plan to be first in line.
For anyone who‚Äôs been, say, backpacking across Mongolia this past month and thus may have missed the media blitz, ‚ÄúJulie & Julia‚ÄĚ is based on the eponymous book by Julie Powell, which in turn was based on her blog ‚ÄúThe Julie/Julia Project,‚ÄĚ a hilariously raucous and occasionally ribald recounting of a year spent cooking her way through Julia Child‚Äôs ‚ÄúMastering the Art of French Cooking.‚ÄĚ¬† It‚Äôs reportedly the first major motion picture to be made of a blog (Hollywood?¬† I have a blog, too ‚Äď call me!), although it‚Äôs also based on Julia Child‚Äôs ‚ÄúMy Life in France,‚ÄĚ a deliciously ebullient reminiscence of the author‚Äôs years abroad as a newlywed during which she discovered her calling in life.¬† Writer-director Nora Ephron adapted both best-selling memoirs for her screenplay, and I can‚Äôt wait to see how she‚Äôs managed it, because any way you slice it, the convergence of books, food, and film is a tasty troika indeed.
I also can‚Äôt wait to watch Meryl Streep sink her teeth into the role of Julia Child.
Growing up as I did in ‚Äė60s and ‚Äė70s, the heyday of PBS‚Äôs surprise hit The French Chef, Julia and her gleeful warble were part of the soundtrack of my childhood.¬† Although to my knowledge my mother never attempted a single featured dish ‚Äď about as French as our family got was Chicken √† la King ‚Äď oh did she ever love to watch Julia in action.¬† Who didn‚Äôt?
Once, when I was in my teens, I got to see her in action for myself when my aunt took me to downtown Boston for a book signing-cum-cooking demonstration.¬† The place was mobbed.¬†¬† Julia was as larger-than-life in real life as she was on TV (at six foot two, she was the same height as my aunt, a fact which endeared her to my aunt forever), and she gamely wise-cracked her way through what to her must have been just another publicity event, but to us was a once-in-a-lifetime Julia sighting, long to be savored.¬† I can‚Äôt remember which recipe she made for us from her then-hot-off-the-press ‚ÄúFrom Julia Child‚Äôs Kitchen,‚ÄĚ but I know that a whisk was brandished, and I recall much enthusiastic beating of ingredients.
Perhaps a similar personal experience inspired author Amy Bronwen Zesmer, whose 2008 young adult title "Dear Julia," a tale of a shy high school girl with culinary aspirations and a trunk full of unmailed letters to her role model, is being re-promoted by HarperCollins, who is clearly hoping to surf the wave of enthusiasm for all things Julia.
Julie Powell and Julia Child.¬† Two very different women; two very different books; one shared passion for food and life.¬† Toss in a talented screenwriter and the result could be a feast indeed.¬† Here‚Äôs hoping it is.
Heather Vogel Frederick is not a foodie, she just likes to eat.¬† Her latest novel for young readers, Dear Pen Pal, will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.¬† She blogs at http://heathervogelfrederick.wordpress.com.