We lived in New York in 2002, during the time when Julie Powell was writing her blog cooking through all the recipes in the Julia Child cookbook. I followed it religiously. I was trying to finish writing my PhD dissertation and working day jobs as a temp at places like Clinique and Tiffany's, in their corporate headquarters, or in big financial firms. The names of the places sounded glamorous but the work was not-- I remember being hired to fill in for a secretary on vacation at a big financial firm and being shocked that actual shoeshine men would go from office to office, collecting shoes, sitting outside and dutifully shining them. Always at these places there was a hierarchy, still with white men at the top (I'm thinking of Mad Men), and I was usually taking orders from some guy who needed Excel spreadsheets typed up rapidly, or else someone to help him fill out Evite invitations for a party, and who could care less that I was working on a doctorate. It was an interesting year, it was fun at times, and it was also a struggle. And I had my own food blog, site designed by my husband, on its own server (that we eventually stopped subscribing to so I could do a free blogger page). I wrote a lot more back then and loved reading other people's sites. So it was cool to watch Julie Powell's rise to fame, and to reminisce about living in New York in a similar time in our lives.
The movie was great fun, and it made me fairly hungry for French food, even though many of the scenes involved not fully cooked food but ducks being deboned, or other raw scenes. Not quite as mouth watering as other food movies, such as Big Night. So this past weekend for my birthday dinner, my family and I went to Cafe de France, one of the best restaurants in our town. It was terrific. I had veal piccata, with perfectly cooked asparagus and a potato galette, and creme brulee for dessert. Because he'd heard it was my birthday, the waiter propped a tiny candle on the side of my plate in wax, a perfect gesture. I went home and dug around for my copy of the Julia Child cookbook-- I know I bought it years ago at a yard sale-- and couldn't find it anywhere. Oh well. Instead I took several yellow potatoes, sliced them thin, layered them in a gratin dish with sliced onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper between the layers. I poured milk over the whole thing, baked it for an hour at 375, and added more cheese at the end. Would have been even better with gruyere on hand but not bad, nonetheless. But now I'm desperately searching for that cookbook.