Monday, August 02, 2010

What’s Cooking

Julie & JuliaVera Valmore and I watched a movie here at home on Saturday -- Julie & Julia (2009). That was the one that crosscut between the true stories of Julia Child co-authoring her groundbreaking Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julie Powell cooking all 524 recipes in Child’s book in one year and writing a blog about it.

I know... doesn’t sound very “hard-boiled” at all. Except for the occasional egg. And yeah, Vera suggested it. (She doesn’t know it yet, but we’re next watching This Gun for Hire with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.)

But as it happened I did enjoy the film, which did a neat job highlighting the parallels between the two women’s stories, both of which are ultimately about each becoming writers.

Actually, I was probably predisposed to enjoy Julie & Julia for a number of reasons. For one, I do like to cook, though haven’t any particular skills. I can follow a recipe, though, as long as it isn’t too complicated, such as I did this weekend when making gazpacho (Joy of Cooking, page 99).

By the way, when making gazpacho the key is always to use fresh ingredients. Vera and I hit the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, where I picked up most of what I needed. Also, take your time and chop everything up into the smallest bits possible, but don’t mince/puree stuff. Keep it all recognizable. Oh and someone somewhere taught me once how to peel tomatoes: boil some water, cut a little “x” at the base of the tomato (opposite the stem), throw it in for a minute, then dunk the tomato in bowl of ice water. Skins fall right off.

Another reason why I was ready to enjoy the film had to do with the story of Child and her husband living in France. Vera and I once had the opportunity to live a year in France (in Lille). In fact, that’s where I actually had the time to write the bulk of my first novel, Same Difference. So I’m always interested in stories of Americans living and working there and having meaningful experiences while doing so.

Finally, I had heard the story of “The Julie/Julia Project” -- that is, the blog written by Julie Powell which you can still read over at Salon -- and was curious about this whole blog-becomes-a-book-becomes-a-movie thing.

That’s probably the part of the film that I found most interesting. For some, there probably isn’t a lot of drama to be associated with starting a blog, starting to realize one has some readers, and then having the sucker evolve from a diversion to a pastime to a meaningful hobby to... well... an identity-shaping life-changer.

Get a blogI wonder about blogs these days. They’ve definitely faded a bit from prominence over the last few years, with Facebook, Twitter, and other “social media” options having become preferred means for many to communicate their thoughts, their opinions, their... well... “identities.”

I stubbornly remain attached to the blog, however. And to the idea of taking a bit of time with one’s communications. Like with the gazpacho... or poker... patience usually pays. Not always monetarily, of course. But in ways that can be as nourishing (or more so).

Have another big writing project in the works -- more fiction. Another mystery, like Same Difference. And also like with the first novel, there is no poker in the plot. (Not at present, anyway.) Have the recipe and most of the ingredients all laid out and ready. Just need to get in there and starting cooking.

I’ll keep stopping in over here as well, though, to continue to serve a variety of poker-related dishes. Have moved back over in to pot-limit Omaha a bunch here lately, and will probably share some of those ups and downs here soon. If I don’t get an upset stomach, that is.

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