Tired of the relentless, dispiriting PR juggernaut which means (finally, mercifully) the imminent release of Julie & Julia? Consider sidestepping the entire matter and just watch the real thing. If you go to pbs.org, you can watch 26 episodes of Child's shows–a vintage episode of “The French Chef,” cooking eggs circa 1964; a more recent “Baking With Julia” episode, baking puff pastry with a young Michel Richard–and if you want more, you can order the videos, thankfully without a reworked cover courtesy of Sony Pictures.
If you do nothing else, just watch Child's souffle episode, in which she demystifies the famously difficult dish. She plops down one dish after the other, until selecting “a charlotte mold, with little ears.” The tin foil is bright and misshapen, the glaring lights are unforgiving, the studio is bare bones, and the stove (gasp) is electric. But there she is, hands on her hips, 1972 hair, declaiming “Budda is bedda!” to the cameras. No canned laughter, no sycophantic studio audience; just some insightful instruction (“a roux–R-O-U-X–which is the basis of all the thick white sauces of France”), an utterly charismatic woman, and a resolute clanging of pots. Make your own popcorn.
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