I watched a movie called “Julie and Julia” along with a group of friends last night. It’s a film about two women who find meaning and purpose through food. Julia Child goes to cooking school and writes a cookbook. A generation later, Julie Powell spends a year cooking through all the recipes in that (now famous) cookbook, and blogs about it.
Yet the most intriguing aspect of the film for me wasn’t the cooking. It was the portrayal of their marriages. Julia and Paul are firm in their marriage and throughout the film constantly support each other in their respective endeavours. They demonstrate, knowingly or unknowingly, some of the advice that another Paul (an apostle) gives:
“… let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33)
On the other hand, the movie portrays a sanitised view of Julie’s marriage with husband Eric – yet real life seems to be less rosy. It’s heartbreaking after watching the film to read that since finding fame and popularity with her blogging and writing, she’s gone on to be unfaithful to her husband and recently released a second book which details her newfound passion as a butcher alongside her numerous infidelities.
Here’s the backcover text to her second book (emphasis mine):
Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Childâ€™s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing sheâ€™d ever do–until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.
Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischerâ€™s, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs–tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.
The camaraderie at Fleischerâ€™s leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world–from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.
It’s painful to read her description of cheating on your spouse as merely “insane” and “irresistable”.
In many ways, I am encouraged and challenged not by the cooking prowess and know-how of Julie and Julia, but by their commitment to their respective marriages.