Julie & Julia – saw movie with Julia’s friends: their reviews, plus a never-before-seen Julia Child Recipe

August 18, 2009
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The other week, I went with my mom (still the queen of food PR at 70+ – she did PR for first AIWF conference plus the Harvest Festivals, etc.) and Shirley Sarvis to see the movie “Julie and Julia.” It was great, because after the movie, the San Francisco Professional Food Society (SFPFS) had a chat about the movie (Mom used to be on the board of SFPFS). So I got to meet peeps that were part of Julia’s life (LOVE MY LIFE!)

My “auntie” Rosemary Manell was one of Julia Child’s best friends. She and Dorothy Cousins (Julia’s sister) used to be clients of my mom’s – and became friends. Rosie used to come over for Thanksgiving, in fact, driving up with her white mane of hair and her white Jag. She and Julia were in France together – it’s my remembrance that they were actually at the Cordon Bleu TOGETHER, after they were both in the Service. She, Dorothy, and Julia were all of course around 6′ tall (or taller) and all their husbands far shorter. You gotta love it. (As I’m 6’2″ and have ALWAYS been tall, the idea that “having to date a man taller than yourself” was “comPLETE NONsense” per these awesome women – which was great to hear growing up).

Jane Lynch, who played Dorothy Cousins (Julia’s sister) was EXACTLY LIKE Dorothy. I saw Dorothy a lot – Julia was in Santa Barbara and so I never actually met her until she was very, very old. But WOW, was Dorothy spot on. The audience was full of folks who “knew” the sisters, of course, but the rest of the audience must have thought we were mad when we were laughing “inappropriately” at comments made between the two sisters – just because it really was like Dorothy was “right there.” The characterization was just so great, it made you giggle because Dorothy was just such a character. It was like seeing her alive again.

Mom and Shirley (Sarvis) talked a lot while we were waiting for the “afterparty” to begin about what a wonderful guest Julia was. Mom’s “fear factor” of cooking for Julia was assuaged at Dorothy’s when she met Julia the first time – if you’re curious, ask me to relate the “G+d D+mn Rat Turds!” story.

Ivan loved Dorothy just like Paul loved Julia. The person that the folks who knew them the best marvelled at wasn’t so much Streep’s portrayal of Dorothy. Sure, some said it was great, all were relieved it wasn’t “Saturday Night Live-ish”, some said it was a little over the top – but the portrayal of Paul by Stanley Tucci had folks wet-eyed. (Of Streep, one panelist said, “It was a bit of a ‘Hollywoodification’ of Julia, but if it brings her back to us and get folks cooking, versus reality shows and the horror of “Food TV”, it’s great”; another said, “The ‘Instant gratification’ of Food TV juxtaposed against watching Julia slowly putting a dish together is like night and day – people need to see this again”; Jim Dodge said about Food TV, “It’s against the labor laws to treat people like that. Make food. Travel. Love Watch Julia. Change your world.”)

They said that Tucci “was” Paul, and marvelled at how he could be “so right” about the characterization, as there is not that much film with him. I’d love to let Mr. Tucci know how much love was aimed at him that evening. Jim Dodge was particularly touched at how Julia and Paul’s “romance, and true, deep and abiding love” was portrayed. He apparently took Julia to see her kitchen in the Smithsonian, after Paul had passed. Her only comment was “Gosh, I wish Paul could see this.” Shirley also said that the house that they picture (the big white one) “Must have actually been” Paul and Julia’s – because she had been there many times, and “if that wasn’t THE actual house, it’s exactly perfectly like it.”

But back to Ivan (Dorothy’s husband). Yes, he really was that little. At their home, Dorothy had built up the kitchen counters so she (and Julia) could cook better – and Ivan cooking or chopping literally had to raise up his elbows like a little kid. Mom always relates in their later years, how Ivan would just look at Dorothy who would sometimes come out with off-the-wall comments (a la Julia) and his eyes would get soft and he would say “Isn’t she just WONDERFUL?”

Mom and Dad also had Dorothy and Ivan over for dinner at one point, and Ivan took the chair that my mother usually took. He looked a bit startled, and then Mom realized that our big white Persian-ish cat, Samson, had hopped in Ivan’s lap, as that is what he would do to Mom. Mom was horrified, but Ivan smiled and said, “Leave it to Sally-Jean to provide a living napkin. How warm and welcoming.”

What else did I learn from the panel? Tidbits that I Tweeted about:

1.  They felt that it’s important to read the book “My Life in France.” They said that the author reminded Julia of Paul when he was young – and they feel that’s why she was so open in it.

2.  Julia hated lines, but did stand in line for Graceland, “Because that’s just a must-see.”

3. Julia was a breast cancer survivor and lots of organizations were ‘annoyed’ she wouldn’t support them. However, the panelist stated that Julia “was earthy, but she was a lady. And she felt that we just don’t talk about that.”

4. Words used for Julia over and over by the Panel: Humility  and Curiosity. 

5. Jim Dodge had a couple of stories about Julia that were great. He apparently had a red truck in Santa Barbara, and got sideboards specifically for Julia so she could “step up” and into the cab. He also told a hilarious story about Julia finding out about “cat sex” – you can ask if you want to hear it (has to do with unmatched kittens). Finally, apparently they were together at a big important dinner, and a woman sitting by Julia was continually bragging about her jewelry and flaunting it. Julia took it for a while and finally just looked her in the eyes, jut out her wrist, and said loudly, “‘LOOK at my WATCH! $9.95!!” It shut her right up…

6.  Mrs. [Marguerite ?] Mondavi mentioned that as they got older, the women would get together and talk about various “cures” and “miracles” and “concoctions,” and going to see “Dr. this and that for this and that,” for their various aches and pains. Julia listened for a while and said, “Why don’t you just take some Tylenol and rest and stop complaining about it?” Made me laugh.

7. There was a lot of talk about Julie – her affair, why Julia said what she did, how Julia received her blog (which she did read). Not that important to go into here.

8. Mom said if she could sum Julia up, she was Julia was “bawdy, fun, LOVED food and wine, and was  truly devoted to her husband.” My heroine!!

SO (wow, long post, but I post so seldom now, wanted to get this out!) – this all made me take down some of the cookbooks that Rosie had given to me. They have great comments – for example:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume I, first edition): “Rosie and Abe – Who have been in on this from before the beginning. Let us cook many more great meals together. Julia.” “A le premiere cuisiniere Americaine, avec toute mon admiration et mes compliments. Simone Beck.” “October 1971 And – after 10 years MORE of friendship: These further signatures, as a symbol of continuance and pleasure. Paul Child.” and after that “Julia” with a little heart with an arrow through it.

Mastering The Art of French Cooking (Volume II, first edition): “To Rosie – our favorite cook, with infinite pleasure in all the shared tastes, smells, sights, feelings & sounds over the years, from 1948 to today (1971). Paul Child. Julia Child.”

In BOTH of these books, if you page through it, you can see cross-outs and annotations, as obviously Rosie tried various recipes and “fixed” them (wonder if she told Julia – e.g., if any of these are in the later editions?) They are splattered beyond belief – love that.

From Julia Child’s Kitchen (First edition): “FOR ROSIE!!! From two loving eaters, pussy-strokers, Kauaian swimmers, ex-Marse(i)lle(?) pals (lousy spellers), adorers and creators of le carrillon de l’amitie pour toi. Paul & Julia” with a big heart under with an arrow through it.

AND, in Mastering (Vol. I), I found the following recipe (I have a few letters that were in Rosie’s Larousse, to her from Julia when she was trying to perfect Roast Chicken, but I’m too tired of all this typing to put those in – just let me know if you want’em…):

Dated 1965, typed on a typewriter, lots of cross-outs, etc. on St. Francis Hotel stationery, Union Square, San Francisco, CA:

 

PATE BRISEE FINE (a la Wondra Machine)

1-1/2 cups granular flour

3 tablespoons chilled Crisco

1stick chilled butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Put flour, Crisco and butter in bowl of electric mixer and mix at low speed for a minute or two until mixture looks like very coarse meal.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold water

Dissolve salt and sugar into water; pour into flour mixture and blend for about half a minute, or until dough masses in blade of mixer.

Turn dough out onto marble. Shape into a rough mass, then complete final blending by pushing nut-sized pieces of it with the heel of your hand out and away from you in a rough, quick 6-inch smear. Scrape dough into a mass again, knead rapidly into a ball, flour lightly, and wrap in waxed paper. Chill for 2 hours or over night. (Rest is necessary to re-hydrate flour, to relax gluten, and to harden butter.)

 

UPSIDE-DOWN PASTRY SHELLS: Roll dough about 1/8 inch thick. Butter outside of a cake tin, turn upside down, and press dough on it. Even off to a depth of 1 inch with a ravioli wheel. Prick all over (including sides) with a sharp-pronged table fork. Chill for an hour or two (this again relaxes gluten, preventing shell from baking out of shape). Bake at 425 degrees, 7 to 8 minutes for a partially baked shell (for quiches), 4 to 5 minutes longer for fully baked shell.

 

PROPORTIONS FOR LARGE BATCH (4 times above):

6 cups flour

12 TB Crisco

4 sticks butter

_____________________

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1-1/3 cups water

P.S.: The line in the movie where Dorothy and Julia are looking in the mirror, and “Dorothy” says the “We look good….well, good, but not great” line was actually Rosie! I just found it, page 82, in My Life In France by Prud’homme. I’ll be doggoned! Some “poetic license” – but then again, bringing Rosie and Abe into the calculus (another tall woman, ambassador, childless couple who were Julia and Paul’s best friends) would have probably just confused the narrative. :-)

Well, so, that’s all I have to say for today. :-)