Julie, Julia, and Russ Parsons

I love practically everything about the movie Julie and Julia, but there is one rather annoying loose end. It pops up in the scene where Julie gets a call from a reporter who is covering Julia Child’s birthday party. He tells Julie that Julia doesn’t think much of her blog or her cooking. Then he asks her for a comment.

Naturally, Julie is devastated. She’s been invoking Julia as muse and spiritual director and guardian angel and moral compass combined (and to top it all off, her initials happen to be J.C.  Hmmm..). And it turns out, at least by one account, that Julia doesn’t appreciate this effusive admiration and affection? How can it be!!!!

In the movie, the scene is short and the key tension unresolved. The conversation moves sideways. Julie whines to her long-suffering hubby, “She saved me!” to which he replies earnestly, “You saved yourself.” I found this exchange problematic: IMO, Julie was “saved” because she stepped up to a challenge that was big enough to draw her out of herself and into something greater.

But I left that scene with another nagging concern: what did Julia actually say about Julie and her blog?

Or (and here I am forced to admit that I, too, had become rather besotted with the divine Julia Child): Could Julia really have done such a thing?

So I was delighted to stumble across Russ Parsons’ account. “I was there,” he tells us. Parsons tells us that he was the first journalist to write about the Julie/Julia blog, at about the half-way point in the project.  He was friends with Julia Child, and so when he discovered Julie’s blog, he printed it up and gave her a copy. Here’s how he tells it:

She hadn’t heard about it, but promised to have a look and get back to me. I didn’t hear from her for several days, so eventually I called her up. “So Julia,” I asked, “what do you think?”

There was a silence as she gathered her thoughts. Then in that familiar reedy voice she nailed the answer: “Well,” she said, “she just doesn’t seem very serious, does she?

“I worked very hard on that book. I tested and retested those recipes for eight years so that everybody could cook them. And many, many people have. I don’t understand how she could have problems with them. She just must not be much of a cook.”

She asked me not to quote her, and after thinking it over, I didn’t, choosing a valued friendship over a couple of juicy paragraphs in a story. I’m still not sure it was the right call, but there you have it.


Yes, there you have it. One less little thing to keep me awake at night, wondering.

Read more from Russ Parsons at http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-calcook12-2009aug12,0,7986229.story?page=1

2 thoughts on “Julie, Julia, and Russ Parsons”

  1. We just saw this on Friday night, and were wondering about that scene.

    What immediately comes to my mind is that the bar is much higher for Julie than for Julia: In addition to all the cooking and keeping a marriage alive and well, Julie has a full time job with a New York commute. She has much less time and energy to devote to cooking than Julia. That is where the parallel between the lives breaks down.

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