Friday, August 7, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

What a beautiful summer day is now just about to end. And with another 24 hours, my week off will also be about to end.

I've found the days pass by with a welcome pace, and have found time for what seems so elusive when I am always about to go to the shop, or tired from having been to that shop.

I have had delightful lunches with friends. I have gotten to Central Park several times. I have been to some beautiful galleries and museums. I have gotten my sketch book out and actually sketched and painted.

I have had my ophthalmologist give my glaucoma riddled eyes the healthy okay. I have had my treasure of a stylist bring my hair back to precise bob-dom. Shocking even to me, I have done a bit of apartment cleaning.

Perhaps even more shocking, I have even been taken out to dinner by a charming man, who continues to offer me invitations though I show him little encouragement.

And, today I went to the movies, for the first time making use of my senior citizen discount.

The film that I saw, Julie and Julia, has just opened. One of its stars is Meryl Streep, who normally I do not seek out, even though she is an acclaimed and accomplished actress. Back in the 1970's, she lived not far from me, and I know that she is not a tall person. I really wanted to see how she would portray the legend that was Julia Child.

This film is a depiction of two marriages that are linked by a blog begun by Julie Powell, who very much admired Mrs. Child.

I liked the movie much more than I had expected I would. It took me back to my early days in early apartments, when I began to learn how to cook. Nowadays, I rarely use recipes, except when baking, but back then I regularly referred to several books.

The Joy of Cooking is a very good manual and my copy still has its tattered dust cover.
My aged copy of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook is a brittle-papered paperback. I still use it for many baking recipes around Christmastime.

However, it was when I first became of aware of Julia Child that I discovered that with a bit of time, it was possible to actually prepare classic dishes.

The dust cover for my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking is long since gone. There are strange stains on various pages, remnants of meals prepared decades ago.

I used to love experimenting with the book's recipes, and felt so accomplished when something turned out just right. Many of these dishes were prepared for long lost boyfriends. I cannot tell you the last time that I made a souffle, although I do still have several porcelain baking dishes at the ready.
Seeing that film today really did take me back to a time when I still had so much to discover about life. Sitting here now, and thinking about the scenes depicted in the film has got me a bit contemplative. It was lovely to sit in that dark movie theatre, and see the glory of Paris and the more familiar challenges of bringing beauty and civilization to certain more modest NYC neighborhoods.
The director and cinematographer did wonders to make the rather petite Ms. Streep seem to be the very tall Mrs. Child. I will also admit that Ms. Streep did a marvelous job of bringing Mrs. Child back to us. I suspect that kitchens might soon be busy again in many homes.
The film also opened up anew the question of ... why do we write blogs, and for whom do we write them.
Best wishes to all.


  1. I heard about this movie and I intend to go and see it now. When I came to this country people thought I could cook because I was French, but my mother always did the cooking. I bought Julia Child’s The French Chef in 1964 I believe and made many of her recipes. I would not go and watch this movie though if I was not going to Paris this year (am planning to go late October). I have not been back since 2005 and I get so homesick.

  2. There was a lot in this deceptively quiet little post, Frances. You packed a great deal into your week - culture, grooming, dining, socializing, wondering.......
    I too went out this evening to see Julie and Julia but never got into a theatre. It was showing at two theatres, both sold out.

  3. Lovely blog, as usual. I enjoyed exploring the High Line via your post last week.
    "Dishes prepared for long lost boyfriends" brings a rueful smile - too true!
    I hope you continue to have a charmed summer.

  4. A lovely post. I too have a very stained copy of The Joy of Cooking, though nothing by Julia Child (I suppose here in the UK we have a Delia, rather than a Julia!) and several souffle dishes. Perhaps we should all revisit a favourite old recipe that we haven't made for many years, and post about it, whatever the result!

  5. What a lovely post all about your week. You have inspired me to go and see the Julia Child film, and I loved your tantalising allusion to the artistic and creative world of 1970s NYC. 'Why do we blog' is such a tangled and fascinating question...

    So glad to hear you had a lovely relaxing week and are now looking good and feeling great! Also glad to hear that you are keeping the men on their toes ;-)

    I do love your posts Frances. Thank you.

  6. I almost envy you your week of calm; pleasing yourself and doing the activities which give you pleasure.

    I am not familiar with the cookery books or cooks you mention but have a similar collection of food-stained cook books some of which I am about to junk because I no longer use them. These days when I want a particular recipe I just 'google' the basic ingredients and see whst I get.

    I hope to see the film Julie and Julia soon.

    Enjoy the last couple of days of your holiday.

  7. Fascinating stuff, Frances. I had never heard of the film, the blog or the books. I shall now watch out for two and visit the third immediately.

    I love the tales of your contemplative weeks with gentle activities. I'm finding your blog very soothing.

  8. Hello Frances,
    Your week sounds delightful in so many different ways. I love the way you manage to find such a variety of activities, essentials along with pure pleasure and make each one so interesting to read.
    Particularly pleased to hear about the sketching.
    I watched a snip of the Julie and Julia a few days ago, will go to see it. A jolt to the memory, always makes you think, how the time passes. You may not have quantity of free time, but you do manage to have quality in your time. Enjoyed reading both your blogs. Milly x

  9. I do so enjoy your posts, and look forward to reading them for they are always full of grace and charm. I am pleased your week has passed well, but sorry it is over so soon. Time off always passes more quickly than time spent waiting or working.

    I remember Julia Child from my happy days spent in America. A doyenne of American cookery and a legend in her own lifetime. How could I forget Fannie Farmer? I suppose they are replaced in my culinary bookshelf these days by Delia, Nigella, and our very own doyenne, Marguerite Patten who despite being in her 90's still makes public appearances.

  10. Wow! I had no idea that there was a movie out about her! I am so bad at cooking, but I hope to see the movie and hopefully learn a thing or two! Thank you for the info and thank you for sharing your cookbooks! I love looking at (mostly just looking) cookbooks!

  11. A lovely post about your free week. I enjoyed every day of it with you, with the possible exception of apartment cleaning.
    I hope you will be able to continue enjoying the odd outing with your gentleman friend, that too can be most welcome at times.
    Cooking is fun, I dislike the "everyday catering" aspect of it but creating a special meal for friends has something satisfying about it.

    May your return to work be a pleasant one.

  12. Thanks for the introduction to this book/blog/film, it sounds like my kind of film if only I can drag my long suffering husband along to watch.

    It sounds as if you have enjoyed your week off, glad to hear that the sketchbook got an airing!

  13. Hmm, that Pondside, she's so perceptive. Her comment was spot on. Although I am very envious about your perfect bob (I am still looking like a hay stack), delighted that you have been sketching and painting, and took great pleasure in the photos of the recipe book - what I really want to know is who is the charming man??. Well, I've certainly enjoyed your holiday, Frances. Cx

  14. It certainly sounds as though your few days of leisure were very well spent (and, no, I'm not talking about the apartment cleaning). You do seem to fill your time well, and I'm glad to hear you managed to fit in some sketching, too. Intrigued to hear about your charming man! And although I've not come across Mrs Julia Child, I'm now intrigued to know more and will certainly check out that film when it comes here.

    Hmmm - why do we write blogs and for whom do we write them? Such an interesting question. I suspect we all have our own answers to that, and I'm not sure what mine might be - might make an intriguing meme question, though?

    Indeed, Pondside hits the nail on the head yet again with her observation about there being a lot in this deceptively quiet little post. It's often the simplest, most homely things that tap into the heart of life. A lovely post, Frances.

  15. Ah Frances! You write them for us, don't you? We are voracious for your fairy tales of New York (I always want to insert 'fairy' after the book by JP Donleavy) And from this distance they are fairy in the sense of being from another world, far away, exotic, unattainable - well almost.

    I am at a bit of a disadvantage however in not knowing anything about the film or Julia Child. But yet again you have alerted me to something I should know about and so will look out for it.

  16. I have enjoyed reading about your week's holiday very much Frances. You certainly kept yourself busy - how fortunate you are to have all that culture right on your doorstep! I had not heard of Julia Child or been aware of the film or the blog so it will be interesting to follow up on your links.

    I love the gentle contemplative feel of your posts. Thank you.

  17. Lovely post Frances - I really enjoyed it (as I do look forward to all of your posts). You definitely stir memories - I looked out my well worn copy of Julia Child after I read "Julie and Julia" when the book was published and it brought back many memories. (The food channel here in NZ sometimes features classic old shows of Julia Child still...always well worth watching.)
    I shall definitely go to the film now.
    I'm so glad you have had a lovely week off - a very well deserved one.
    Thank you Frances.

  18. I am pleased to hear your week passed so fruitfully and I am inspired to get out my sketchbook on holiday next week. The Julia Child film is on my list along with 'Coco'. I hadn't realised the connection with Meryl Streep. I am quite a way from the nearest cinema but love to see films on the big screen rather than DVD. Thank you, too, for making me think about favourite recipe books. I find I return to the same recipes over and again.

  19. You've made me want to see the film Frances. We used to live in Boston, Mass many years ago and I used to love watching Julia Child on TV. I'm sure I must have a copy of one of her books somewhere too!
    I like the thought that you have an admirer! I'm very much enjoying reading your blog.

  20. Hello Frances. Lovely to catch up with your comings and goings. How lovely to be taken out for dinner and love the sound of the museums and art galleries too. A lovely post Frances x

  21. Oh I do agree with your other commenteers France. A post full of grace and charm. It sounds like a lovely week. I too am ignorant of JC & J&J the film but have opened your links to read next.
    I am very pleased you write your blog for us to read Frances. And I thank you very much for your time taken to read and comment so beautifully on others blogs.
    With love from CKx

  22. What evokative writing as ever and very timely for me here as I have embarked on a programme of teaching eldest the rudiments of several old french classics, with vatiable success I might add!!

  23. great post!
    and make sure you take that charming man up on his offers....good men are hard to find!

  24. What an elegant vacation.
    I don't know why you blog, but am so glad that you do.

  25. What a fabulous blog, Frances - and how lovely to catch up with you - it's been far too long.
    I have never been a Meryl Streep fan - but glad the movie was a good one. I confess I have never heard of Julia Child and will need to remedy that.
    Thrilled that you have been out to dinner too....want to know much more about that (is this the same gentleman as before?)
    Love your old cookbooks....but sorry that you're back to work now.. Hope all goes well. Janexxxxx

  26. Hello Frances

    Another lovely blog. I was surprised to read that Madame Streep is not tall - she certainly comes across that way. I do hope you enjoyed your holiday - it certainly sounded as if you did (notwithstanding the cleaning, of course).


  27. This was a lovely post! I quite liked the plot of the movie, will watch it sometimes... you write from one of my favorite places in the whole world.. New York City! It is lovely meeting you :)

  28. I shall have to read this wonderful post again, Frances (have I ever not come back to comment a second time?)!

    In the meantime, thank you.

  29. Hi Frances, i really like the sound of the film, I really enjoy baking at the moment Im still a beginner though! I love New York we came about 6 years ago, and Id come back in an instant! Im a country girl at heart but can make an allowance for NY!!! Especially if i lived over looking central park!! fliss xx

  30. the Joy of cooking used to be my bible of the 60's. I swear that when I lost that book I lost a big part of me. Isn't it odd what we put attachments to.

  31. Another fabulous blog Frances, cannot believe I missed this.!

    I adore all those vintage cookery books, I have one here which used to belong to my MIL, a bit tatty around the edges, think it must have been used a lot just after the War.

    The film you mention sounds interesting, would love to see this.


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