Happy Birthday Julia. Centennial Year in fact.
Her life was recently celebrated in the film ‘Julie & Julia’ which not only served up her colourful personality and life story, but infused it with a savoury reduction of embracing failure…
Her story was failure upon failure each adding to her drive and focus. The Head of the Cordon Bleu cooking school famously proclaims to her “You have no real talent for cooking.”
“No excuses, no explanations.” (see her omelette flipping in the clip above) That is the motto by which she lived her life. In so doing she pioneered the cross over from haute cuisine (the special dishes requiring special preparation) into the everyday kitchen. And she did so by embracing failure. By introducing more sophisticated dishes and preparations, but without fussy perfectionism, exemplified her breezy, relaxed style and attitude in her iconic, trailblazing PBS cooking show ‘The French Chef’. And even her seminal work, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’, practices the discipline of failing to be everything to everyone (“Many splendid creations are not included, and there are tremendous omissions.”)
The film offers up a double helping of embracing failure as the protagonist of Julie pursues her own dreams. On the outer layer, her story is also one of cooking, but underneath that filo pastry is a story of pursing ones dreams with chockfull delectable failures to be embraced…
- “I am risking my wellbeing for a deranged assignment.”
- “It’s supposed to be a big adventure, but it turns out that it’s just a lot of melt downs”
The tale is also perhaps the first big screen portrayal of ‘blogging’. This medium is now over a decade old, and some people say past its prime. Yet amid the cacophony of social media (so many of which have come and gone), blogs persists as a pervasive and powerful platform for creating and sharing. For those outside the blogiverse, such aimless and activity without any apparent rewards or activity seems befuddling. But it is no more labouring over a boeuf bourguignon that someone else gets to savour.
[spoiler alert] In the end, while so much more is achieved than Julie ever imagined, her biggest dream of all, dies in the end. I’m sure the industrial kitchens of Hollywood would have preferred something a bit more saccharine, but the French Chef would have settled for nothing less poignant and authentic.
“In small kitchens, big ideas.”