Taking back the clock, one recipe at a time
I’ve been feeling like I should write one of those end of year blog posts, but in truth I’ve gotten caught up in something else entirely. My partner and I needed a pick me up and some cheap bubbly on New Years Eve, so we stayed in and rented Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia, which we both enjoyed.
The press reaction to the film has been along the lines of “I liked half the movie” or “see it for Streep, not Adams,” not too off the mark, but a predictable, if not a little unfair, round of criticism. I didn’t find the Adams half to be that bad: Ephron was upfront about all of that Gen X attention whoring, and I was glad that she included Child’s reaction to the blog, although she stops short at telling us exactly what it was that Child 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.”
Child’s jab was a little unfair, but that’s the rub, the generation gap, the entire mess of it all, because if there’s any reason to criticize this enjoyable film for being less than an art house masterpiece, it’s that it could have been about so much more than cooking and self-actualization: It could have been about the difference between a generation privileged to have time on its hands, and one that has none.
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog obsessing over people’s growing need to make lists, publicize goals, multitask, as they race their way toward haphazard pseudo mastery, and I think the Julie/Julia question is a perfect example of this conflict. In short, we’re a generation trying to cram eight years of writing a cookbook into a one year blogging project, which may seem shallow and self-indulgent, but goddamn it, it isn’t our fault.
We’ve been robbed of time in some fundamental way, by technocrats, our increasing work hours, by an education system that would rather “race to the top” than slow down and let our kids think. So why complain when we turn those lists and charts and graphs back on their purveyors as a means of resistance, of forcing something genuine back into lives in which the satisfaction of real mastery is being replaced with a ribbon thin substitute at the end of a finish line?
Child may have taken years to piece that book together and the world is probably a better place for it, but other than the wealthy, who among us has that time these days? If Powell became a success by cramming something meaningful into the two or three hours of freedom she was alloted after each working day, then good on her. She might not be much of a cook, but in turn she got her time back to become one should she so choose.
And that, if not the food, is probably why her story should inspire the rest of us, fighting if not for fame, then at least fifteen minutes.