Seeing Julie & Julia


By Elizabeth Bridge, CBC Digital Archives

The imminent release of the movie Julie & Julia has renewed much interest in cookbook author, TV show host and bon vivant Julia Child, the woman who is credited with introducing Americans to French cooking in the 1960s. The movie is based on Child's 2006 memoir My Life in France and on a blog by New Yorker Julie Powell, who spent a year cooking her way through every recipe in Child's landmark manual Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Julia Child brought French cooking to American tables.
(Associated Press)

Over at CBC's Digital Archives website, we dug up a 1991 radio interview with Child. Her distinctive warbly voice is a pleasure to hear in conversation with Vicki Gabereau, and Child speaks with authority on the subjects of french bread, salad dressing and the best fat for making french fries. Almost 20 years on, her thoughts on American eating habits and her disdain for processed foods still sound relevant.

In the interview, Child only briefly mentions her time in France. (She spends more time talking about how she could have been a spy.) But that period, when she trained at the Cordon Bleu cooking school and wrote her first cookbook, is the part of Child's life told in Julie & Julia.

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams star in the movie, but the food also gets top billing. An illuminating piece in the New York Times Magazine delves into how movie food stylists approach their jobs when the food has a starring role. In a companion feature, stylist Susan Spungen takes viewers through some of the food scenes in Julie & Julia.

Julie & Julia joins a long list of food movies, a mini-genre that I have yet to explore fully (and the online magazine Chow lists a few that I'll pass on.) I'm pretty keen to see Julie & Julia, but after reading up on it I'm going to be sure to eat before I go. Otherwise, my rumbling stomach might drown out the dialogue.

What are some of your favourite movies about food? Will you see Julie & Julia?