Monday, January 7, 2013

From the Top Shelf - Julie and Julia

I greatly enjoyed reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, in which she documents her project of preparing every one of the 500+ dishes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. The book was based on the blog she used to record each day's efforts. I felt an affinity with Julie as she described the relationships she developed with the readers of her blog. They were her "bleaders", who cheered her on when she felt down, and gave her advice and support.

In her book, Julie also introduces us to her closest friends in real life. This small group often joined Julie and her husband Eric to consume the results of that day's cooking. It came as something of a surprise to find some subtle and not-so-subtle references to our favorite activity in Julie's recounting of her friend Gwen's long-distance relationship with a work associate she had never met. When Mitch finally arrives in Gwen's office in new York, he makes a startling (to me, anyway) observation:

"Phil said you looked like a young Renee Zellweger." Gwen, who maintains a long-standing abhorrence for Renee Zellweger that I've never quite understood, had heard this several times from Phil the shoulder-biter; she just grimaced. Mitch continued, "He's an asshole. You're clearly a dead ringer for Maggie Gyllenhaal."

"Oh, come on." she was starting to blush.

"Listen, I don't go around telling women they look like movie stars. I'm serious--I've worked with Maggie. You could be her twin."

Worked with Maggie? On the set of Secretary perhaps? Later, after Mitch has returned to California, Gwen receives an instant message from him.

You know what happens to cheeky monkeys like you, Maggie? They get spanked.

Ooh! Unfortunately for me, and possibly for Gwen too, no further mention is made of that special activity. Maybe it happened but Julie didn't think it worthwhile to record the details.

The other interesting reference to TTWD appeared several chapters later. During the year of yer project Julie worked for an agency that handled a variety of services related to the September 11 attacks. One day she received a telephone call from an unexpected source.

"Hi, I own a business downtown and I wonder if if qualify for business assistance."

"Well, I can try to help. Where are you located?"

"My business is in the seaport, and many of my clients used to work in the towers..."

"The seaport is in the designated Area 1, so you should qualify for ful benefits. What you need to do is call--"

"Can I be honest with you?" the woman on the other end of the line had a deep, gravelly voice; she sounded like she'd just finished laughing about something. I was intrigued; can I be honest with you? Is not a question you get a lot when you work for a government agency.

"Uh, sure."

"I own a dungeon; it's the only dungeon in lower Manhattan. We've got the NYPD's Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."

"The police give out seals of approval?"

"The chief of police told his men, you know, 'if you want to go to an S and M dungeon, this is the one to go to'..."

I was still sort of just sitting there gaping into my headset when the woman confessed that it wasn't so much that she needed assistance; business was quite good, actually, but she really did want to expand, and her accountant suggested she should give us a call--

"That is so awesome." It came out a little belatedly, and rather without the husky cool detachment I might have wished for.

"I know."

I suppose a breathless 'awesome' was by far a better response than she expected to get in calling a government agency for assistance. It must have taken some guts to call...then again, I guess it takes guts to open an S&M dungeon in lower Manhattan.

See my previous post on Julia Child and spanking here.

From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

Hi Hermione, wow, isn't it amazing where references can be found! Wouldn't never have thought in this book! Thanks for sharing.


Aimless Rambling said...

The things you find amaze me. Thank you for sharing.

Dee said...

Rather fascinating I must say :)

Dee x

ronnie said...

You certainly do find some amazing stuff. Thanks Hermione.


Anonymous said...

Read her next book, Cleaving. It takes place after the success of Julie and Julia. In it, she learns how to be a butcher and has difficulties with her husband due to her relationship with her BDSM partner. No beating around the bush at all. It's not a great book by any means, but I thought I'd mention it.

Hermione said...

Roz - They sort of jump out at me when I read, dunno why:)

Sunnygirl - You just never know what you'll find in a vanilla book.

Dee - Rather!

Ronnie - I loved the movie, and the book is even better.

Anon - I read the first chapter, published at the end of Julie and Julia. I was intrigued, but now I'll HAVE to buy it. Thanks for the tip.


Minielle Labraun said...

I am amazed at the things you bring us! Love when we get these snippets of 'others!'

Hermione said...

Minelle - I'm glad I have such an appreciative audience.


Enzo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enzo said...

Was I the only one who thought Julie should have been spanked by her husband for her behavior at times during the course of that story?

Had that carried through to the movie imagine the lovely scene that may have been of Amy Adams being spanked...if only.

Hermione said...

Enzo - I thought she was unbelievably rude at times, and deserved a spanking. But no, Eric just calmly did the dishes.


Enzo said...

So glad to know I wasn't the only one who thought this! :)