Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Julie & Julia On My Day Off
I never get tired of this view of Boston. Even after living in the area off and on for the last twenty years, I still catch my breath every time the Red Line train emerges from the Kendall Square area and is met by this view while crossing the bridge from the Cambridge side of the Charles River. When I'm going into town for something enjoyable, like lunch with a great fellow-blogger and friend, seeing this skyline fills me with a special kind of excitement.
Lisa, a.k.a. Anali, author of Anali's First Amendment, and I took advantage of "Restaurant Week" and had lunch at Aquitaine, a French bistro on Tremont Street. I'd been looking forward to this lunch since we firmed up our plans last night while I was between cases on call. I already knew what I wanted: moules frites, or a "Bourride of Mussels with Leeks, Fennel, Roasted Tomato, and Parsley," served with toasted bread and basil garlic aioli.
Bourride, I learned, is another occitan word which, according to Merriam-Webster online, refers to "a fish stew similar to bouillabaise that is usually thickened with egg yolks and strongly flavored with garlic." I detected no egginess in my mussel broth, which had just enough of a hint of garlic to be tasty without being overpowering.
I was not disappointed: it was exactly what I wanted in an appetizer dish of mussels. For the main course Lisa and I both had tagliatelle with golden raisins, pine nuts, spinach, capers, and hand-pressed ricotta - delicious and al dente, just as it should have been. Then she had a lovely pink grapefruit sorbet while I finished with a lemon pound cake.
After lunch we caught a matinee showing of Julie & Julia at the the Loews Theater on Boston Common. I am a huge admirer of Meryl Streep. I think she is one of the most talented actors out there, and her portrayal of Julia Child is a delight and a tour de force - for me, the whole reason to see this film, beside my great love of food and cooking. The memorable cooking scenes - Julia practicing her onion mincing and Julie trying to pull off a lobster thermidor - were captivating. And I loved the husbands in the movie - they were so supportive and so nice, and they reminded me so much of mine.
Here's my honest opinion: while I like Amy Adams' work and enjoyed the film, I found myself wishing it were a film about Julia and Paul rather than Julie and Julia, and perhaps the wonderful Stanley Tucci has something to do with that. I kept feeling wistful every time the story would cut away from the Childs and go to the Powells, wanting to see more of the love story and events in the lives of the Childs, more of Paris (admittedly a personal bias), more about Julia's culinary journey in France. The film was very nicely written, and well-acted by all, but Streep and Tucci really had me hooked to Julia and Paul.
I don't own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but now I'm thinking, how have I lived till now?! I'm going to have to check out some French Chef DVDs too...
I tried to think if there's any person I look up to in the way Julie idolized and was inspired by Julia - that one muse you're dying to meet, or to whose home you'd want to make a pilgrimage if you could, or whose every piece of writing you want to read, or whose life and work you'd want to emulate - but no one person fills that role for me so far in quite the same way, though a few might come close.
I appreciate so much better now what Julia Child has meant to the world of food and cooking. With the support of those who cared about her, as well as her own pluck and exuberance, Julia Child was able to follow her heart, truly be herself, and make an enormous difference. What a great example of using one's greatest passion in life to transform oneself and change the world!