It was inevitable that I would go see Julie and Julia. All in all, a cute and entertaining film. Meryl Streep amazing as usual. Despite the brief surge in sales of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, you really can’t go home again. Those days in the sixties of America’s awakening to French food are long gone. It is now just one cuisine out of many that are of interest to us. Real men still don’t eat quiche; they eat pizza and tacos. Most of us prefer grilled chicken to coq au vin and we now know that pounds of butter and cream are not good for us. Plus they make us feel full, fat and guilty. Julia once questioned me as to why I embraced the Mediterranean diet. She was not impressed with it because it had such small portions of meat and not much dairy. I told her my father died at 47 of a heart attack and I was not blessed with her metabolism and gene pool to survive all that saturated fat!
The days of elaborate dinner parties that were inspired by her book are over too. Few people are willing to devote the time to prepare such multicourse feasts. In fact few people invite you for dinner, despite those elegantly remodled kitchens . They’d rather meet you at the latest restaurant.
When I started teaching cooking in 1965 all my students wanted “Gourmet French.” But over the years their tastes evolved. They wanted Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Holiday cooking. Americans are omnivorous, and interested in all kinds of cooking.
The other thing that struck me as ironic is that if Julia tried out for television today they would not hire her. Weird voice, not pretty, sort of awkward and too natural. Not slick enough for the tube. Sort of sad what has happened to cooking on TV. It’s mostly game shows and competitions that get the most attention. You really can’t go home again.