Or rather, my 2005 interview with Julie & Julia author Julie Powell:
After making all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, would you say it’s an art?
Cooking can be an art. I think that the role of the recipes in MtAoFC, and why it continues to be useful even though the recipes are kind of dated and belong to a specific time and place is there’s such an emphasis on the techniques, and they're such lucid techniques. It's like being given a paintbox or a lesson in oil painting or pastel. There are rules that apply to different materials and different techniques that you can then apply. To make it a true art, you have to go off on your own and find your own way of interpreting, it’s more like a toolbox than anything else. It’s a wonderful book, I find the book itself is a piece of art as literature, it’s an enormously well-written book. What they don’t talk about much is Julia’s skill as a writer and one thing that I think she does best is in the format of this very formal book, it’s not Nigella Lawson carrying away about her personal life, it’s not any number of cookbook writers who really put themselves at the center of their book. It’s a very formal book; it’s designed like a cooking class and moves from the simplest techniques to the most complex, but within that pretty formal format she somehow manages to imbue the thing with her personality and you can just hear her saying it, it’s her voice on the page. I think that’s an underrated skill. People don’t understand how hard that is, it’s a large part of the reason people feel so personally involved with her, she pops off the page as well as popping off the television. Ultimately it’s the tools for an art in the book. You can’t master any art out of a book but you can get the tools to begin.
Obviously, I want to see the movie, preferably this weekend. But really, I'm eagerly awaiting (aka, salivating over) getting my hands on a copy of her new memoir Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession.