However, one of the articles that I came across in all of this media hoopla really struck me. This NY Times article was written by Michael Pollan, who I've named checked on this blog several times before because I love his book The Omnivore's Dilemma and the different ways it made me think about the food I eat (like the amount of corn product that is in almost everything).
The article isn't really about the movie Julie and Julia, but rather how Americans have substituted cooking food themselves to watching others do so on their television sets (He kind of gives the Food Network a hard time, which I don't necessarily think is fair, because I actually often DVR shows from FN just to get different recipe ideas. Of course, I also have been known to watch Iron Chef America and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives just to drool. Anyway, the article itself is interesting and whether or not you agree with all of his points - it is, like all of Pollan's work, thought compelling.).
To begin the article though, Pollan talks about Julia Child and how she influenced what his own mother cooked and served his family when he was a child. According to Pollan, Julia Child encouraged woman who had before been making mostly casseroles with potato chip toppings (full disclosure: as a child I regularly ate my mother's Tuna Noodle Casserole and the potato chip topping was the high point of that wretched dish. She must have missed the Julia Child revolution because we never had an Beef Bourginion nights to balance things out.) to try something a little more... French. Julia Child didn't inspire women by being a Martha Stewart type who taunts us with her own endless perfection, but rather someone who wasn't afraid to try and fail - and who encouraged women within their own kitchens to do so as well.
Michael Pollan writes this anecdote while discussing an episode of Julia Child's show, "The French Chef":
The episode has Julia making a plate-size potato pancake, sautéing a big disc of mashed potato into which she has folded impressive quantities of cream and butter. Then the fateful moment arrives:“When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions,” she declares, clearly a tad nervous at the prospect, and then gives the big pancake a flip. On the way down, half of it catches the lip of the pan and splats onto the stovetop. Undaunted, Julia scoops the thing up and roughly patches the pancake back together, explaining: “When I flipped it, I didn’t have the courage to do it the way I should have. You can always pick it up.” And then, looking right through the camera as if taking us into her confidence, she utters the line that did so much to lift the fear of failure from my mother and her contemporaries: “If you’re alone in the kitchen, WHOOOO” — the pronoun is sung — “is going to see?” For a generation of women eager to transcend their mothers’ recipe box (and perhaps, too, their mothers’ social standing), Julia’s little kitchen catastrophe was a liberation and a lesson: “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”
Okay, so you knew I was going to bring this back around to writing - didn't you? Of course, you did.
As I mentioned in my last post I've been doubting myself, my writing, and more specifically my poor book.
Did I write it in the wrong tense? Did I start it in the wrong place? Did I inject monumental amounts of suckitude into every last page?
When I get into these bad places I tend to keep it all inside, which is bad. Really bad actually, because my internal voice's answer to those three questions was: "Yeah you did, Duh, and Ye-ep."
Not liking these answers, I turned to my amazingly supportive husband who as amazingly supportive husbands tend to do told me all the right things. Mostly those things were: 1. go ahead and change the tense - you'll feel better once you do and 2. believe in your own writing, and believe in your own voice.
It made me feel better to hear those things - especially the second one. And when I was reading Michael Pollan's article and came to the part about flipping the potato pancake and having the courage of your convictions it just seemed to bring the point home. It also really made me want to find the recipe for that potato pancake, because that thing sounds pretty freaking delicious.
Have you ever doubted your own writing/voice/style? Did you see this movie or read the book it's based on (I actually bought it half off around Christmas time and made it about halfway through before losing interest) and have a review for me? Did your mother or do (gasp) you serve any dishes that require a potato chip topping? And does anyone out there have Julia Child's potato pancake recipe?