The day has finally come. Julie & Julia opened and the rest of the world is now free to make their own conclusions about the movie. I'll admit part of opinion may be a little askew because I did talk with Julie Powell for an interview in Relish magazine. The idea that Julia Child thought she was disrespectful in her Julie/Julia Project is odd to me. As Powell says, "I was figuring where I was in my life and following someone who had figured it out for themselves".
Sounds like a genuine compliment to me. But then again blogging was relatively new and and taking on the personal challenge Powell did was also unique in 2002. Why are food bloggers and prominent food writers/chefs so ready to dislike Powell? Jennie Yabroff wrote a great article in Newsweek asking and answering all these questions.
Perhaps the problem is the very form of communication we've all come to rely on, sending thoughts into "space" with the click of a button. Personalities have been taken out of the equation, allowing people to form opinions without having met someone in real-life. It's the ultimate judging a book by its cover.
So what did I think of the movie? That's the real reason I'm clicking away at the keyboard at 1:30am. I liked it—a whole lot. I'll admit I went in skeptical. I had read so much about how Julia's story was great and Julie's was, well, lacking seasoning so to speak. One syndicated critic actually wrote "loved the first course, hated the second". I'm curious what was there to hate about the story of a woman who found herself at a crossroads in her life. Haven't we all been there? Wasn't that Julia's story too? These were two women looking for purpose, fulfillment, and meaning in their lives. Julia Child had the luxury of doing it as a full-time endeavor. Julie Powell had to do it on the night-shift. It's the eternal juggle women have had to face since feminism came into fashion. I've been there. I feel like I'm there most days as I try to balance my work schedule, motherhood and marriage.
Julie Powell had the mixture of a good idea and being at the right place, at the right time. Kind of like Julia Child. Shed your preconceived notions and watch the movie with a fresh perspective. I'm betting you'll walk away feeling encouraged that you've got it in you to do whatever you set your mind too, and that's the real message in this movie.
Eggplant & Manouri Panini
Makes one pretty big sandwich
Speaking of putting your mind to a project. I've had panini cravings, probably from reading Panini Happy, but don't own a press. Really. No worries. All you need is a cast-iron skillet (even a non-stick skillet will work) and a heavy pot or casserole dish to act a "press" and weigh the sandwich down.
3 lengthwise slices of grilled eggplant
1 1/2 ounces Manouri cheese (a Greek sheep's milk cheese, similar to ricotta salata)
A good smear of mango hummus
Individual-size ciabatta bread, split lengthwise
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, assemble the panini. Place the eggplant slices on the bottom half of the bread. Evenly sprinkle cheese on top. Spread hummus on top half of bread and place on bottom half. Place sandwich in center of heated skillet and weigh down with a heavy-bottomed pot of casserole dish (like the one in the picture below). Cook until bottom is golden. Remove weight, flip over, replace weight and continue cooking until other side is golden.