Julie Powell blogged her way through cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking; a book deal and movie followed. Are food bloggers thrilled for her? Hardly; Powell is a foodie infidel who must be stopped.
Powell's movie is part blogger story and part Julia Child biopic; Meryl Streep plays Child, the famous home-cooking guru.
Now in preview screenings, Julie and Julia is already being savaged in food blogger circles. Chef, cookbook author and food blogger Virginia Willis' slam set the tone. While professing "no malice," it took Powell to task for daring to question Child's recipe, once:
One day she made a comment implying a recipe being wrong for roast chicken. I honestly don't remember what it was, but it struck me as being so disrespectful, completely without deference to Julia Child, that I stopped. What the hell did she know about food? Had she even heard of poulet au Bresse? Didn't go back.
Actually, the term Willis was looking for was poulet de Bresse, but we shouldn't interrupt a master bravely defending Child against a disrespectful (gasp!) acolyte:
People who happen to eat and are able to type are now our new food experts... Good grief, people who don't know how to begin to roast a ding dang chicken without following a recipe can be our new, ahem, food experts.
The bitter anger of a lone chef-writer? Hardly; other food bloggers quickly agreed. "Thank you, Virginia for... bravely expressing your frustrations," wrote one. Another: "Great post." Another: "A very well written article about something which, despite being an amateur food blogger myself, does frustrate me to no end." One blogger, after watching only a trailer, said Child "deserves more than being the other half to a Nora Ephron-penned romcom about a 'lowly cubicle worker' who blogs and struggles and cries and gets a book deal." Oh, plus also, Child thought Powell was a mere stunt artist! A clown, really! What a gleeful thing, to be able to report.
Powell, you see, has made enemies of her obsessive online peers. What infuriated them most was a 2005 New York Times op-ed decrying the "insidious... snobbery of the organic movement" — an all-out assault on the Church of Alice Waters. The reaction was furious: "today's stupidest piece of information;" "gratuitous... a coarse reductionist version of the... organic movement;" "[a] shockingly incoherent thing;" "ill-informed... erroneous." Or this, after Powell panned raw foodism in the Times: "Julie Powell... needs to stop huffing dust from the crypt of Erma Bombeck."
The prevailing "Slow Food" ideology of the culinary world is that the process of nourishment should be devolved — from massive centralized farms and feedlots and factories to local growers and aritsans and ultimately home gardens; from nutritionists and other food scientists to cultural and family traditions. And ultimately, we're supposed to replace slapdash restaurants with careful preparation in small, individual kitchens.
The irony is that here we have in Julie Powell the ultimate manifestation of these principles, an amateur who dived fearlessly into home preparations, devolving not only food but, via her blog, media as well, taking both cooking and communication into her own hands. And yet the foodie priesthood seems on the verge of ex-communicating her over these very traits. Sorry, guys, but Julie Powell is literally the embodiment of an organic movement. Buy some Milk Duds (TM), splash some fake butter on your Popcorn, pop open a Diet Coke (TM) and enjoy the film.