Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of Julie & Julia. (Available to download as an ebook or audiobook.)
Did you enjoy reading the first five chapters this week? I found the reading to be really easy, but I didn't always enjoy the writing style. What did you think of Powell's writing? Did you enjoy the way she talked about things, or did you find her candor off-putting? When I was first reading, I was a little confused about the little vignettes about Julia Child. At first, I assumed those scenes were taken from Child's writings, but when I looked at Powell's author notes at the beginning of the book, I realized she imagined those scenes from research she did about Julia Child. What did you think about those scenes? Did you notice the author's note?
In this first section, Powell talks about her day job often, and at one point, she mentions how the company she worked for had the responsibility of figuring out what to do with Ground Zero, the area left behind after the Twin Towers fell. She doesn't mention the government agency by name, but she does mention that her company ran a memorial site called the Family Room. I could not imagine what this room really looked like, so I immediately attempted to find pictures of it online. Luckily, I found that the New York State Museum has an online exhibition of the space. Make sure you check out the panoramic virtual tour because I don't think you can really understand the breadth of this memorial without taking the tour. The space is so overwhelming, but I can see how it could provide a sense of connection and closure for people who lost a loved one in the September 11th attacks.
One thing I thought was really interesting was Powell's first blog post. She recounts her entire post at the very end of the first chapter—it's a short little post, and it feels completely different than blogs we have now. From what I understand from reading the blog archives, Powell didn't include any photos in her original posts. Can you imagine a blog now that didn't feature a lot of visuals? I think readers now would expect a photo of each recipe attempt. Do you think Powell's blog would have gained as much notoriety if it had come on the scene now instead of in 2002?
What did you think of the chapter in which Powell recounted how hard it was to find a marrowbone? Do you have any idea how you would go about getting a marrowbone? I don't have the first clue how I would go about getting that kind of ingredient. But getting the marrowbone didn't end up being the worst part of the process. I think the worst part was actually cutting the bone apart to access the marrow. Have you ever done any complex cooking that would require sawing apart a bone? I definitely haven't, and I don't think I could do it. What's the weirdest ingredient you've ever cooked with?
Did you have a hard time picturing the apartment that Powell and her husband moved in to in this first section? It didn't seem like a very pleasant place. But, hearing about her small kitchen made me remember that so many cooks make great things in really small spaces. I read an article about Joy Wilson, creator of the website Joy the Baker, a long time ago, and I found it really inspiring that Wilson was able to create so many recipes and bake so many things in such a small space. Don't you love looking at people's kitchens? I really do. To see pictures of Julia Child's kitchen, check out this post on Bon Appétit's website.
Were there any other things in this section that really stood out to you? I'm really excited to see how the project gets more complicated as the book progresses. Do you think Powell will struggle with anything in particular?
I hope you'll check back next week as we discuss chapters 6–10. I can't wait to hear what you think of the next section. Before you go, check out Julie Powell's list of top kitchen tools. Do you have all the tools needed to start cooking like Powell?
I'm excited to hear from you in the comments section!