Julie and Julia...and a Girl in Dirty Sweats

In honor of finishing the book Julie and Julia I decided to try my hand at Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Borguignon. Boeuf Borguignon holds the importance of a character in Julie Powell’s book about her trials and tribulations while cooking her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Boeuf Borguignon also holds a special place in my family’s history. My Father hates stew as well as anything mushy. I don’t blame him, as many of his childhood meals came out of a pressure cooker, colorless, textureless and bland. He also hates snaps – not the food - the kind on feetie pajamas. When my Dad was a child my Grandmother made all his clothes with a snap machine. It was quicker and cheaper than sewing on individual buttons. Therefore everything had snaps. Picture a thirteen year old boy going to school with snaps on his shirt and you can understand his phobia. Snaps and stew – just a few of those childhood scars that linger into adulthood – hey, it could be worse.
When I was eight, my Aunt made beef stew on a family ski trip – a warm and hearty après ski meal. My Father vehemently disagreed. After much chagrin, the only way we could get my Dad to try it was to call it something fancy – Boeuf Borguignon! I remember my Mom teaching us kids how to pronounce the fancy dish – pinching our noses so we all sounded distinctly French. Now it's the only way my family will say it and it makes me chuckle every time. My Father still hates it.

For all intents and purposes, Boeuf Borguignon is indeed stewed beef - and he's gonna love this - Dad was right. But it is far from being colorless, textureless or bland. Beef chuck is seared in bacon fat, giving it a wonderful brown crust before slow cooking it in the juices of vegetables, red wine and beef stock with a touch of cognac. To finish the dish, you add a handful of pearl onions, browned mushrooms and a dollop of butter. To really finish the dish you’ll need a loaf of crusty French bread and a bottle of Burgundy. It is best served the next day - during a snowstorm with a snuggly dog at your feet and a good movie.

Okay, a mediocre movie. As expected, the book is better than the movie. That’s not to say I didn’t just rent Julie and Julia for a second time. (Man this is embarrassing). But hey, I just spent three hours making Julia Child’s signature dish – and I feel like I can sort of relate to her. I love French food. I have an infatuation with Paris. I’m unusually tall and wear sensible shoes (sometimes). My French is a joke. And I too found my passion late in life – or at least that’s how every interviewer has made me feel. Apparently 28 is the new 37 (how old Julia Child was when she changed careers). I also swoon at romantic metaphors where I am compared to food, as Julia did when her husband called her ‘the butter to his bread’. Sigh. In fairness, most women would not appreciate being compared to butter. Know your audience.

Regardless of my feelings about the movie, and the book for that matter, it is indisputable that Julia Child is an inspiration to those that find their calling later in life – whether chef or dedicated orderer-in. And I can’t hate on Julie Powell either – she took charge and changed her life with a cookbook, a blog and a whole lot of butter. It’s more than I can say for myself – as I sit here in my day old sweats, blogging about a movie about a book about a blogger about a chef – waiting to hear on a job offer. I guess I’ll have another cup of stew.

- The Heat

Don't know who Julia Child is? A classic: Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child 


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the film - am a wanna-be cook but don't have much time - will also try recipes from book. Nothing wrong with sitting in your day old sweats and blogging - enjoy your cup of stew and sorry but I can't offer you a job.

Anonymous said...

Its a good film it inspired me to cook every day then takeout.

Anonymous said...

I too loved the food metaphor. I love to cook and I'm no Julia Childs although I am tall. Love to cook -- stews, curries, chicken, chops, grill, and well everything. You write beautifully! Hope you find a wonderful job soon. All the best to you.

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