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Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously: Audio CDs - Julia Powell

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously: Audio CDs

Author: Julia Powell

Audio CD

Published: September 2009
Ships: 10 to 14 business days
10 to 14 business days
RRP $18.95
$17.95

Simultaneous release with screening of feature film, starring Meryl Streep

Booker Prize Winner 2006.

Trapped in a boring job and living in a tiny apartment in New York, Julie Powell regularly finds herself weeping on the way home from work. Then one night, through her mascara-smudged eyes, Julie notices that the few items she's grabbed from the Korean grocery store are the very ingredients for Potage Parmentier, as described in Julia Childs' legendary cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And The Project is born. Julie begins to cook - every one of the 524 recipes in the book, in the space of just one year. This is Julie's story, as gradually, from oeufs en cocotte to bifstek sauté au beurre, from 'Bitch Rice' to preparing live lobsters, she realises that this deranged Project is changing her life. The richness of the thousands of sauces she slaves over is beginning to spread into her life, and she begins to find the joie de vivre that has been missing for too many years.

"What lies at the heart is the power of food to transform the everyday act of eating into a complex and potentially life-changing experience." - Guardian Review.

"A gem of a book... both hilarious and touching." - Glamour.

"Restore(s) your faith in eating for pleasure." - Vogue.

"An entertainign romp portraying the joys and frustrations familiar to any ambitious domestic cook." - Sunday Times

The following is an extract from Julie & Julia: DAY 1, RECIPE 1

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Leeks and Potatoes

As far as I know, the only evidence supporting the theory that Julia Child first made Potage Parmentier during a bad bout of ennui is her own recipe for it. She writes that Potage Parmentier – which is just a Frenchie way of saying potato soup – 'smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make.' It is the first recipe in the first book she ever wrote. She concedes that you can add carrots or broccoli or green beans if you want, but that seems beside the point, if what you're looking for is simplicity itself.

Simplicity itself. It sounds like poetry, doesn't it? It sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

It wasn't what my doctor ordered, though. My doctor – my gynecologist, to be specific – ordered a baby.

'There are the hormonal issues in your case, with the PCOS, you know about that already. And you are pushing thirty, after all. Look at it this way – there will never be a better time.'

This was not the first time I'd heard this. It had been happening for a couple of years now, ever since I'd sold some of my eggs for $7,500 in order to pay off credit card debt. Actually, that was the second time I'd 'donated'– a funny way of putting it, since when you wake up from the anesthesia less a few dozen ova and get dressed, there's a check for thousands of dollars with your name on it waiting at the receptionist's desk. The first time was five years ago, when I was twenty-four, impecunious and fancy-free. I hadn't planned on doing it twice, but three years later I got a call from a doctor with an unidentifiable European accent who asked me if I'd be interested in flying down to Florida for a second go-round, because 'our clients were very satisfied with the results of your initial donation.' Egg donation is still a new-enough technology that our slowly evolving legal and etiquette systems have not yet quite caught up; nobody knows if egg donators are going to be getting sued for child support ten years down the line or what. So discussions on the subject tend to be knotted with imprecise pronouns and euphemisms. The upshot of this phone call, though, was that there was a little me running around Tampa or somewhere, and the little me's parents were happy enough with him or her that they wanted a matched set. The honest part of me wanted to shout, 'Wait, no – when they start hitting puberty you'll regret this!' But $7,500 is a lot of money.

Anyway, it was not until the second harvesting (they actually call it 'harvesting'; fertility clinics, it turns out, use a lot of vaguely apocalyptic terms) that I found out I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, which sounds absolutely terrifying, but apparently just meant that I was going to get hairy and fat and I'd have to take all kinds of drugs to conceive. Which means, I guess, that I haven't heard my last of crypto-religious obstetric jargon.

So. Ever since I was diagnosed with this PCOS, two years ago, doctors have been obsessing over my childbearing prospects. I've even been given the Pushing Thirty speech by my avuncular, white-haired orthopedist (what kind of twenty-nine-year-old has a herniated disk, I ask you?). At least my gynecologist had some kind of business in my private parts. Maybe that's why I heroically did not start bawling immediately when he said this, as he was wiping off his speculum. Once he left, however, I did fling one of my navy faille pumps at the place where his head had been just a moment before. The heel hit the door with a thud, leaving a black scuff mark, then dropped onto the counter, where it knocked over a glass jar of cotton swabs. I scooped up all the Q-tips from the counter and the floor and started to stuff them back into the jar before realizing I'd probably gotten them all contaminated, so then I shoved them into a pile next to an apothecary jar full of fresh needles and squeezed myself back into the vintage forties suit I'd been so proud of that morning when Nate from work told me it made my waist look small while subtly eyeing my cleavage, but which on the ride from lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side on an un-air-conditioned 6 train had gotten sweatstained and rumpled. Then I slunk out of the room, fifteen-buck co-pay already in hand, the better to make my escape before anyone discovered I'd trashed the place.

As soon as I got belowground, I knew there was a problem. Even before I reached the turnstiles, I heard a low, subterranean rumble echoing off the tiled walls, and noticed more than the usual number of aimless-looking people milling about. A tangy whiff of disgruntlement wafted on the fetid air. Every once in a great while the 'announcement system' would come on and 'announce' something, but none of these spatterings of word salad resulted in the arrival of a train, not for a long, long time. Along with everyone else, I leaned out over the platform edge, hoping to see the pale yellow of a train's headlight glinting off the track, but the tunnel was black. I smelled like a rained-upon, nervous sheep. My feet, in their navy heels with the bows on the toe, were killing me, as was my back, and the platform was so crammed with people that before long I began to worry someone was going to fall off the edge onto the tracks – possibly me, or maybe the person I was going to push during my imminent psychotic break.

But then, magically, the crowd veered away. For a split second I thought the stink coming off my suit had reached a deadly new level, but the wary, amused looks on the faces of those edging away weren't focused on me. I followed their gaze to a plug of a woman, her head of salt-and-pepper hair shorn into the sort of crew cut they give to the mentally disabled, who had plopped down on the concrete directly behind me. I could see the whorls of her cowlick like a fingerprint, feel the tingle of invaded personal space against my shins. The woman was muttering to herself fiercely. Commuters had vacated a swath of platform all around the loon as instinctually as a herd of wildebeests evading a lioness. I was the only one stuck in the dangerous blank circle, the lost calf, the old worn-out cripple who couldn't keep up.

The loon started smacking her forehead with the heel of her palm. 'Fuck!' she yelled. 'Fuck! FUCK!'

I couldn't decide whether it would be safer to edge back into the crowd or freeze where I was. My breathing grew shallow as I turned my eyes blankly out across the tracks to the uptown platform, that old subway chameleon trick.

The loon placed both palms down on the concrete in front of her and – CRACK! – smacked her forehead hard on the ground.

This was a little much even for the surrounding crowd of New Yorkers, who of course all knew that loons and subways go together like peanut butter and chocolate. The sickening noise of skull on concrete seemed to echo in the damp air – as if she was using her specially evolved resonant brainpan as an instrument to call the crazies out from every far-underground branch of the city. Everybody flinched, glancing around nervously. With a squeak I hopped back into the multitude. The loon had a smudgy black abrasion right in the middle of her forehead, like the scuff mark my shoe had left on my gynecologist's door, but she just kept screeching. The train pulled in, and I connived to wiggle into the car the loon wasn't going into.

It was only once I was in the car, squeezed in shoulder to shoulder, the lot of us hanging by one hand from the overhead bar like slaughtered cows on the trundling train, that it came to me – as if some omnipotent God of City Dwellers were whispering the truth in my ear – that the only two reasons I hadn't joined right in with the loon with the gray crew cut, beating my head and screaming 'Fuck!' in primal syncopation, were (1) I'd be embarrassed and (2) I didn't want to get my cute vintage suit any dirtier than it already was. Performance anxiety and a dry-cleaning bill; those were the only things keeping me from stark raving lunacy.

That's when I started to cry. When a tear dropped onto the pages of the New York Post that the guy sitting beneath me was reading, he just blew air noisily through his nose and turned to the sports pages.

When I got off the subway, after what seemed like years, I called Eric from a pay phone at the corner of Bay Ridge and Fourth Avenue.

'Hey. Did you get anything for dinner?'

Eric made that little sucking-in-through-his-teeth sound he always makes when he thinks he's about to get in trouble. 'Was I supposed to?'

'Well, I told you I'd be late because of my doctor's appointment –'

'Right, right, sorry. I just, I didn't . . . You want me to order something in, or –'

'Don't worry about it. I'll pick up something or other.'

'But I'm going to start packing just as soon as the NewsHour's done, promise!'

It was nearly eight o'clock, and the only market open in Bay Ridge was the Korean deli on the corner of Seventieth and Third. I must have looked a sight, standing around in the produce aisle in my bedraggled suit, my face tracked with mascara, staring like a catatonic. I couldn't think of a thing that I wanted to eat. I grabbed some potatoes, a bunch of leeks, some Hotel Bar butter. I felt dazed and somehow will-less, as if I was following a shopping list someone else had made. I paid, walked out of the shop, and headed for the bus stop, but just missed the B69. There wouldn't be another for a half hour at least, at this time of night, so I started the ten-block walk home, carrying a plastic bag bristling with spiky dark leek bouquets.

It wasn't until almost fifteen minutes later, as I was walking past the Catholic boys' school on Shore Road one block over from our apartment building, that I realized that I'd managed, unconsciously, to buy exactly the ingredients for Julia Child's Potage Parmentier.

ISBN: 9781742333281
ISBN-10: 1742333281
Audience: General
Format: Audio CD
Language: English
Published: September 2009
Weight (kg): 0.5