Friday, November 27, 2009

The Julie & Julia Project.

I watched the movie while flying back from Tokyo and I must say, it’s very enriching for the soul (and stomach if I could get a bite of that scrumptious looking beef bouillon). I wasn’t really sure what the movie was about but I remember reading the interview between Vogue and Nora Ephron who is the film director and writer, couple of issues back. And I also remember seeing the simple but artfully designed vintage cover of Julia Child’s cookbook in Auckland which to be honest, that was all that really caught my eye. Yea, book covers. Since I’m no cook myself, I didn’t really bother about the dishes you could whip up from the book. I love reading though and you’d be surprised how many ‘cookbooks’ I own. I read recipes like I read novels. I may not be apt in the kitchen, but I certainly have got imagination. To some close friends (and of course my family), I did try to cook diligently once upon a time (hell, I made fresh pasta from scratch, get it?). Well, that was before work hijacked me. I was inspired by Jamie Oliver. Celeb chef he is, but I was drawn more to his zest for life and love for feeding the world. And so I bought almost all of his books and read them like bedtime stories. It was really refreshing because Jamie writes as though he is speaking to you, directly. So when I read his books, I felt like I have a celebrity chef friend (albeit imaginary, very much like what Julia was to Julie). And so I randomly tried some of his recipes especially the pasta varieties because compared to the other recipes, pastas seem manageable. After some really bad attempts, I finally managed to score well with one. And it has this beautiful yummy name called ‘spaghetti with mussels in lemon basil oil broth’ that would just make your mouth water instantly. Well. Now, it’s just memory.

Anyway, I believe that at different stages in life, if you live carefully and pay attention to your surroundings, good old Life will share what she knows and you don’t, with you. These days, I realized that everywhere I go, I’m discovering more and more about food. Which is… strange. Because to everyone who knows me, I’m probably the least fussy eater of all times and have no preference or craving or what so ever. When I say I’m good with anything, then I really mean anything. None of those ‘oh, she says yes means no means yes means no’ sort of illogical crap (now don’t be sexist). But of course, there is some stuff which I’d absolutely refuse. For example, I don’t eat nato (Japanese fermented soybeans). I don’t eat eels. And I don’t eat bugs (those with legs and those without). And I absolutely refute the notion of eating PETS. But somehow. These days, things about food just gravitate towards me. It’s as though, Life wants me to learn more about what I put in my mouth, 3 times a day or more. On top of this eating marathon that I’ve been jogging along in the streets of Tokyo for the past couple of days, I have learned about a chef’s philosophy (a very contradicting and temperamental Kenny Shopsin), about the sociological science of taste that is recognizable to the human palate and how babies get used to a certain taste and refuse new ones after the age of three (so if you want your kid to start eating vegetables, you know what to do), about the design of food and how presentation is an art form itself and they ARE such people called food designers (!), and lastly but not least about design research on taste preference, ingredients composition and even packaging designs which are functional and how they all intricately weave together, centering around the user’s experience, to become the final product that sits on the supermarket shelf. And now, how ironic, I learned how food is beyond scientific explanation and like love, works as a balm for the searching soul. Eating is the obvious easy way out because anyone, and I mean anyone can take one bite and criticize. But cooking becomes the real secret to loving food and nature and to learn respect for other people’s food. To enjoy the process of preparation and see the ingredients coming together and melting into this wonderful thing called food is an awfully therapeutic experience (especially baking) and this I speak from experience, which by the way, I do realize that I never cook anything nice when I’m angry. Having said that, it’s the washing up that’s dreadful. But then again, if you love your utensils and treat them as your best buddies, you’d want them all clean and dandy, hanging and sitting at all the right and strategic places in your kitchen. I guess it’s just perspective and how you convince yourself to go through the pile of dirty pots and pans at the end of a big cookout.

I was supposed to share my views on the Julie & Julia movie. Instead here I am, telling my opinion on an entirely different subject matter although it has a common theme. Well, I really think you should watch the movie because as you can see from here (scroll up, scroll down), it has this kind of effect on me. It made me think. And it made me want to pick up that ladle again and give the spaghetti and mussels another go. And it made me share what appears to be the most personal post I’ve blogged for as long as this page was conceived. So there, it has this kind of effect on you. I guess I’m beginning to open up to embrace something that I’ve always taken for granted, at least 3 times a day. It’s almost like opening up to a whole new dimension that I’ve never thought was so exciting – one out of five, the sense of taste.

Watch the trailer and read the writings of the REAL Julie Powell.

Now, who wants to go for dinner?

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