Volume XIV, Number 2, Fall 2018

"Film, Adaptation and Cooking with the Recipes of Julia Child, Julie Powell and Nora Ephron" by Réka M. Cristian

Réka M. Cristian is associate professor, chair of the American Studies Department, University of Szeged, co-chair and founding member of the university’s Inter-American Research Center. She is author of Cultural Vistas and Sites of Identity: Literature, Film and American Studies (2011), co-author with Zoltán Dragon of Encounters of the Filmic Kind: Guidebook to Film Theories (2008), and editor-in-chief of AMERICANA E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary, as well as its e-book division, AMERICANA eBooks. Email:

Abstract: Réka M. Cristian discusses the topics of adaptation and cooking in Nora Ephron’s foodie film Julie and Julia based on Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking that had a profound impact on several aspects of post-World War II American vernacular culture and Julie Powell’s novel Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen which was based on the author’s blog documenting a year of cooking all Child’s recipes. The article focuses on the issue of intertextual dialogism and refunctioning as primary means of adaptation and also on the issue of microhistorical event(s) and stardom involved in the making of Ephron’s film.

Keywords: adaptation, refunctioning, cooking, recipe, blog, novel, film, Julia Child, Julie Powell, Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, refunctioning, intertextual dialogism, microhistory, Meryl Streep

“Bon Appétit”
Julia Child

The forerunner of contemporary gourmet adventurers on the American screen was the Julia Child (1912-2004). Born in California, Child left for the East Coast of the States for her college studies, then worked in Washington D. C. and afterwards mostly in Europe. While she was living in France she became fascinated with art of French cuisine with its emphasis on using the finest ingredients, be it vegetables from the farmers’ street markets or cuts of meat from the best butcher. Eventually Child’s fascination culminated in her writing a French cookbook for Americans, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and also in introducing and leading a subsequent TV program, “The French Chef,” produced by WGBH, the educational channel in Boston between 1963 and 1973. Her book and her television showed a radically changed “American culinary landscape” (Turan 2009) in the advent of the second wave of feminist movements in the U.S. that had a profound impact on several aspects of post-World War II American vernacular culture. In her memoir, Child wrote that she “was enrolled at Smith College at birth, and eventually graduated from there in 1934, with a degree in history” and with a plan “to become a famous woman novelist” (Child and Proud’homme 84). Popular she became but not as a novelist. Her highly successful cookbooks and subsequent television show brought fame to Child and to other women as well. According to A. O. Scott, Child’s book “stands with a few other postwar touchstones”—including Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care (1946), the Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) and Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat (1957)—as “a publication that fundamentally altered the way a basic human activity was perceived and pursued” (2009), a cultural milestone that inspired many other cultural artifacts and especially various types of adaptations including the works of culinary blogger and novelist Julie Powell and foodie filmmaker Nora Ephron.

During the past decades there has been a proliferation of books, television programs, and films focusing on gourmet adventures creating a gastronomic mythology that invaded our homes in various ways. Celebrity chef and restaurant critic Fanny Cradock’s BBC TV series on cookery, which began in 1955, initiated a revolution in gastronomy with the help with visual media. Today, there are many prominent culinary figures, including the ‘Naked Chef’ Jamie Oliver and his food revolution, the kitchen chemist Heston Marc Blumenthal with his molecular precision, and Martha Stewart’s “didactic gospel” and “kitchen engineering” (Magee 2007), the restaurateurs Anthony Bourdain and Raymond Blanc, along with Guy Fieri, Andrew Zimmern, Paul Hollywood, James Martin, Rick Stein and the minimalist ‘Iron Chef’ of fusion Masaharu Morimoto, the pugnacious Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, the epicurean Nigella Lawson, the organic crusaders Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Alice Waters, among many others.

Child’s pioneering volume, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961 in the U.S. and co-authored by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louise Bertholl, is an overall reflection of “France in the 1950s and the old traditions of French cooking,” thoroughly imbued with “a rather holy and Victorian feeling about the virtues of sweat and elbow” (Child and Beck 19). The second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which came out in 1970, was written by Julia Child and Simone Beck. This became, similar to the first volume, an instant hit by catching up with the spirit of the seventies. While were working on the book project, Child and Beck beat together “a dirt path across the little field” between their two kitchens, as they “dropped in on each other several times a day to compare notes and taste whatever was on the other’s stove” (Child and Proud’homme 276-277). This type of social networking was based on a playful interactivity between the two author-cooks, Child and Simca [Simone], the last being “a veritable fountain of recipes and ideas, which she constantly changed or refined,” while Child’s “job was to be the authority on American habits and ingredients” and “to retest Simca’s recipes, to write the text, and (ugh) proofread” (277). Their collaboration was a genuine act of adaptation because Child not only selected but also adapted a great number of French recipes for the American audience overseas. This type of adaptation involved various processes of borrowing, especially the names of the dishes. In both volumes, Child used a mélange of French terms blending with a naturally playful attitude toward ingredients and cooking tools, similar to the improvisations and modulations of musical themes, making many edible combinations of otherwise unattainable French dishes accessible to a larger American public. Child remembered in My Life in France that

[O]ne of the things I loved about French cooking was the way that basic themes could be made in a seemingly infinite number of variations—scalloped potatoes, say, could be done with milk and cheese, with carrots and cream, with beef stock and cheese, with onions and tomatoes, and so on and on. I wanted to try them on all, and did. I learned how to do things professionally, like how to fix properly a piece of fish in thirteen ways, or how to use the specialized vocabulary of the kitchen—“petits dés” are vegetables “diced quite finely;” a douille is the thin nozzle of a pastry bag that lets you squeeze a cake decoration as the icing blurps out. (Child and Proud’homme 95)

As a result, Mastering the Art of French Cooking displays the basics of themes and variations in a pragmatic guide ranging from the crème au breurre à la meringue Italienne, gâteau aux noix le Saint-André, la Charlotte Africanine, le glorieux, or to the pain d’épices, a few among a large array of other delicacies that finally made their way into a vast number of American kitchens throughout the decades with the mediation of Child’s instructions.

At the beginning of the third millennium, Julie Powell, a Queens secretary, “risked her marriage and her sanity and her cats’ welfare to cook all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking […], all in one year” (Powell 2009, 297). To document this culinary adventure and forget daily frustrations she encountered by working at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Call Center on August 25, 2002, Powell started a personal journal, a blog on the World Wide Web entitled “The Julie/Julia Project Nobody here but us servantless American cooks” (https://web.archive.org/web/20021217011704/http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/08/25.html). Inspired by Child’s book and media personality, Powell planned to reinvent herself by ‘adapting’ Child’s recipes to her own tiny kitchen by cooking each day a recipe taken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and then blogging the outcome and its context. Though far from being an expert cook, Powell managed to ‘master’ the 524 recipes learned from Child’s basic book and recorded in a candid manner each daunting act of culinary accomplishment in her “blog-turned-memoir” (Phipps 2009). Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a “childishly simple and dauntingly complex” book providing “incantatory and comforting” (Powell 2009, 15) feelings that made it into a guidebook to mundane little wonders that helped Powell escape from the stress of everyday urban life. After deciding to pursue her plan in an homage to Child, the blogger “cooked for friends, and for family,” and for many other people (including journalists) and, “somewhere in there it had gotten a little surreal” (291) but also real enough for an intense dialogue about it on the internet.

‘Mastering’ for Powell meant primarily adapting and adjusting the French recipes collected and already ‘mastered’ by Child to suit the third millennium American cultural attitudes towards cooking and way of life while keeping in mind the aesthetics of pleasure and taste of the French, and that of Child as well. So, the dishes Powell cooked were already adapted recipes (by Child) of former, French dishes that have been, in turn, adaptations of previous regional, family or individual recipes that—as most recipes all over the world—varied in time, with geographical coordinates and various historical-economic and cultural factors. Similar in their purpose to the function of the urban spaces of New York City in E. E. Cummings’s works described by Zénó Vernyik, these collection of recipes seem to be “organized around a set of heterotopic locations functioning as portals in space and time” (Vernyik 2015, 133) with these coordinates shifting from France to the US, among various American cities, from Powell’s kitchen into the blog/internet and from the internet (feedbacks) to Powell’s home, as well as into the world of the Smithsonian Institute, TV shows and intradiegetic spaces of a film (as we will later see), all with the time range from the post-WWII period through the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Moreover, similar to Julia and Simca, Powell had also beaten a dirt path across the little virtual ‘field’ between her kitchen and many other American (and international) homes with her daily internet presence. Not long after her first culinary posts appeared online, the diary became a success prompting the blogger to transpose her experience of cooking-and-blogging into another medium, narrative fiction. Encouraged by an impressive number of messages and comments to her blogposts, Powell took a leave of absence from her social network, collected and grouped the posts, edited and compiled them into an adapted commentary of a fictionalized account, and returned to her live journal on the website to announce the publication of her own foodie book that bore the name of the two women involved in the process of culinary creation: Julie and Julia—the result of another adaptation process, this time one from blog to novel. This is how Julie Powell describes the return to her blog after she finished the book based on the experience of cooking Julia Child’s recipes and blogging the experience of going through it:

Where the hell have I been? Well, I’ve been writing a book. And now it’s done! In t-minus 33 days, “Julie & Julia” (a slightly lame title, one editorial battle lost there) will hit the bookshelves. It will have my name on the cover, and my picture on the back leaf. I haven’t really begun to deal with this yet. […] And what I’ve decided I’m going to do is, I’m going to start up this blog, in case there are any Project readers left out there, just to – I don’t know. Touch base. I’m going to be visiting places, doing strange-o author type stuff. And it would be sort of cool if I got to see some of the old gang while I’m doing it. So here it is. Developments shortly to follow…. It’s nice to be back. (Powell “Heloooo?”)

Powell’s fiction, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (published in 2005 with the paperback edition under the slightly different title of Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously), is a twenty-first century offshoot of the Child’s master-cookbook which served as Powell’s basic text. By using Child’s volumes both as base and “as a creative outlet,” Powell found her voice, her subject, her tone and—as Child with her first publication—her vocation as a writer (“Julie & Julia’s Julie Powell Sets the Record Straight”). Powell even confessed that she simply “wouldn’t have done it” without the key influence of Child (Powell 2009, 297), who was her outmost source of inspiration. In her August 10, 2009 blogpost the young gourmet acknowledges this influence. This is how Powell relates the relationship between Child and herself:

A lot of people have been asking whether it’s true that Julia Child wasn’t a big fan of Julie Powell, and whether she and I really didn’t meet. Both of those things are true—Julia, I think, from what I gather, was less irritated than simply uninterested. Which, when I first found out, was of course devastating. But the thing about Julia, to me, was that she was a real person—a great 6-foot-2 force of nature, with tremendous gifts, nearly limitless energy and generosity, firm opinions, and even a few flaws. That’s what I love about her—she inspired because she was a woman, not a saint. Not to say that her not loving my blog was a flaw. I just mean that the fact that she might not for whatever reason adore me as much as I adore her has absolutely no bearing on what is wonderful about her. Throughout her life, Julia nurtured and encouraged and gave great help to chefs and writers both. And she changed my life. No matter what she—or anyone else, for that matter—thought of the project. I know why I did what I did, and I am proud that I spent a year writing and cooking in tribute to one the most wonderful women I’ve ever not met. (Powell “A Couple of Things,” http://juliepowell.blogspot.com/2009/08/)

Oddly enough, Powell and Child never met. Child knew about Powell’s blog and also about Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen but, as Powell disclosed, Child was simply “uninterested” in her. In a candid description of facts concerning the imaginary relationship between Powell-the-adapter and the Child-the-adapted before Julie and Julia was published, Powell writes:

I didn’t know Julia Child. I never even met her. She did write a response to a letter I wrote her: “Thank you for your kind note,” it read. It was printed on a computer, on official Julia Child stationary. “I am happy to know that I have been such a positive influence on you.” I have no idea if she actually wrote it or not. The signature looks real, anyway. (Powell 2009, 302-303)

In 2009, foodie director Nora Ephron, intrigued by the entire process of Powell’s transmedial storytelling, decided to adapt to film a heterogeneous collection of materials. This included Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, combined with Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France she co-authored with her nephew, Alex Prud’homme. For the film version of Child’s food world, Ephron also ‘borrowed’ and inserted crucial moments from Dan Aykroyd’s famous 1978 skit from the Saturday Night Live Show (Season 4, 1978, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSxv6IGBgFQ) in which the actor parodied Child who was very amused by this humorous parody of herself. In the movie, Ephron also accommodated shots of a transposed “Julia Child’s Kitchen” at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (https://americanhistory.si.edu/food/julia-childs-kitchen) in a movie which was to become a Golden Globe winner visual story of “two lost women who find a professional purpose through food” (Barnes 2009): Julie and Julia. Ephron’s work was thus a “postmodern adaptation” that employed, in the first place, various adapted materials—the cookbook and blog—combined through a special pastiche method that, according to Peter Brooker has “something to do with differences in media and modes of production and reception” informed by certain “habits of cultural value” which are exposed when several books, TV excerpts, internet, museum objects and film are brought together in order to “re-function” an original text (Brooker 108)—in this case the Mastering the Art of French Cooking. For a postmodern refunctioning, Ephron, similar to many of her contemporaries, uses transposition, intersecting, borrowing and analogy in an intertextual dialogism involving various historical and fictive materials. In this sense, Child’s cookbook, Aykroyd’s skit, Child’s Smithsonian kitchen and Powell’s blog provide the microhistorical layer of the plot, while the basis for the narrative is Child’s memoir and Powell’s novel. Lívia Szélpál, writing on the issue of microhistory in Sommersby (dir. Jon Amiel, 1993), claims that a film that deals with given historical acts can function as a narrative embedded with a set of microhistorical events (2010, 174). And so does Julie and Julia: the film is palimpsest of accurate historical events that are microhistorical scenes (especially those in relation with Julia Child) fused with fictional elements (some in relation with Julie Powell) for a more effective cultural representation of the process of adaptation and cooking woven into the fabric of the filmic narrative.

As in a good recipe, Ephron’s film has not one dominating ingredient, but features a combination of elements that will make up the product, a movie about making food. Cooking, generally, is the result of passing down recipes from one generation to another, from a culture to another, from a person to another resulting in a considerable number of variations on one basic description or text; adaptation, especially the processes of recipe creation and recreation, resembles cooking in this procedural chain. Linda Hutcheon best defined the general characteristics of any adaptation process, which she saw as an “announced and extensive transposition” (Hutcheon 2006, 7). In this regard, Powell’s blog is an extensive transposition of Child’s two volumes, involving a shift of mediums—from book to blog and from blog to novel—and a reinterpretation of the original text in a given frame (blog text and narrative fiction), experiencing the end-product (Powell’s novel) as a palimpsest through the memory of other works (French recipes, Child’s cookbooks and memoir, Powell’s blog) that “resonate through repetition with variations” (Hutcheon 2006, 8). More ambitious than Child, Powell realizes the creative potential of Julia’s recipes and the publicity power of her blog, declaring with confidence: “I can write a book. I have thoughts” (Ephron 2009). So, she starts writing the foodie novel that will be one of the ingredients of Ephron’s film.

An eloquent example of the equation of cooking and adaptation is Julia Child’s scene from the 28th Episode of ‘The French Chef” entitled “The Potato Show” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6s6rVAkFrE), which might as well serve as an allegory for the adaptation strategy of Ephron’s Julie and Julia. In the show, Child attempts to turn over a potato mixture which, she claims, is a “daring thing to do” and continues by saying that “[w]hen you flip anything you, really, must have the courage of your convictions, particularly if it is sort of a loose mass like… oh, … this.” As any creative process, cooking and adaptation are “daring” things “to do,” especially if one’s ingredients are quite varied and “seem sort of loose mass” like Child’s potato mix or Ephron’s intricate materials. Despite obvious courage and conviction, Child accidentally drops the mixture on the table and, far from panicking, she picks it up and tosses it back into the pan continuing nonchalantly: “if that didn’t go well you can always pick it up and put it together and you’re alone in the kitchen—who’s going to see? But the only way to learn how to flip things is just to flip them.” In Ephron’s adaptation, Meryl Streep plays the role of Julia Child and this entire Potato Sow episode is engrafted in the film as perfect mimicry of the original show—a perfect metaphor for a segment of the film adaptation.

In the texts adapted for Julie and Julia and in the film itself “each husband […] takes pleasure in supporting his mate’s commitment and ambition” (Barnes 2009). For example, Paul Child (Stanley Tucci) helps Julia choose the most pleasurable work she wants, “snaps pictures of his wife’s cooking for her book” (Barnes 2009), and helps her in various ways throughout the entire process of writing and publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Similarly, in case of Julie Powell’s (Amy Adams) husband Eric (Chris Messina) enthusiastically encourages his wife’s “blogging idea” pushing her “to keep going after her obsession with it” starts “to wear on him” (Barnes 2009). As film critic Kenneth Turan accurately observed, “[T]his is the rare Hollywood film where it’s the men who are the support team, not the women” (Turan 2009). The result is a movie by women about women, in a filmic reevaluation of cooking as profession and not as women’s domestic realm.

Ephron re-functions her intra- and extradiegetic ingredients knowing that moviegoers are “going to see” what she managed to finally ‘cook’ into the celluloid world. As a result, Julie and Julia depicts two parallel lives, each with its own narrative in one film: the first “portrays Child’s self-discovery through cooking” through which she finds “a calling in a time and place when women weren’t generally thought to need callings,” based on a cookbook (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and a memoir (My Life in France); the other focuses on Powell’s “accidental dissection of Internet-enabled twenty-first-century narcissism rendered in broad strokes and easy punchlines” (Phipps 2009), that adapts Julie’s blog posts and her blog-turned-novel. Ephron’s film is thus a smart re-functioning of its constitutive texts. The movie ‘quotes’ from Child’s cookbook, cites from Child’s and Proud’homme’s memoir, and from Powell’s novel, but overall it is a movie about the dialogic relation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking with many other texts employed in the making of the story of Julia and Julie. The movie also acknowledges, besides Child’s work, the French cooks’ recipes and alludes to the onscreen character of Julia Child from various TV cooking programs by presenting Dan Aykroyd’s parody of Child’s television show and featuring the quasi-documentary shot of Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian.

In the context of adaptation and its intertextual recycling, Julie and Julia is similar to the movie Adaptation (dir. Spike Jonze, 2002) based on Susan Orlean’s novel The Orchid Thief (1998). This film adapted a “non-fictional account that grew out” of The New Yorker article, “Orchid Forever,” which was published on January 23, 1995, (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1995/01/23/orchid-fever). Its author, journalist Susan Orlean, adapted her article into a novel that was made into film. Jonze’s movie is about John Laroche, a self-proclaimed orchid-guru and poacher and features the adapted novel’s author, Orlean, who is acted by Meryl Streep. This film turns out to be a reflexive satire describing the creative struggles of real-life screenplay writer Charlie Kaufmann in adapting Orlean’s novel into a screenplay that ultimately leads to the movie Adaptation. The intradiegetic world is a dialogic rewriting of the novel, in which the spectator sees Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) reading Orlean’s book, “through which the writing of The Orchid Thief becomes a spectacle, which takes the spectator back to the events that inspired the book, and even further, to the historical events that served as the basis for Charles Darwin in writing The Origin of Species” (Dragon in Cristian and Dragon 32).

Ephron’s visual narrative offers an analogous ‘recipe’ of adaptive strategies: Julie Powell ‘adapts’ Julia Child’s recipes, who had ‘adapted’ these recipes from Simone Beck, Louise Bertholl, and the Cordon Bleu cooks, who also ‘adapted’ these from other sources that had been previously ‘adapted’… Ephron’s work thus becomes a network of commentaries of one text over the other placed in a creative critical dialogue. Moreover, this film is not only about the birth of Child’s cookbook and its critical reception but also about Powell’s interpretation of Julia’s work. Julie re-reads and recontextualizes Mastering the Art of French Cooking (inherited from her mother, who, as many women of her generation, had a Child cookbook in her own kitchen). In doing so, she adapts Child’s dishes by cooking them all, one by one, and adding each event not only as performance but also as a separate post to “The Julie/Julia” blog project, that in turn, prompts a series of reader comments to which she responds with new posts, making this endeavor a genuinely interactive process. Consecutively, Ephron’s movie adapts the birth of this blog and its development by disclosing even the email of the real-life author (jpowell@yahoo.com) in a brief close-up of her online diary that functions as a microhistorical scene and shows the critical reception of Julie’s internet enterprise, its subsequent transformation into a novel, and the reception of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, including a self-reflective sentence on Powell’s book at the end of the film, which says: “Her book has been made into a movie” (Ephron 2009). Furthermore, Ephron’s work features a remake of Julia Child’s television show, presents Powell’s commentary on Child’s Smithsonian kitchen and on Julia’s poster (featuring actress Meryl Streep as Child); it refers to Child’s less enthusiastic comments on Powell’s novel, and inserts, as a quote, Dan Ayckroyd’s “The French Chef” parody of Child’s cooking show in Saturday Night Live—all cooked up in a play of an intricate adaptive process.

Ephron’s adaptation of the Child-Powell encounter recalls the poetics of making Stephen Daldry’s movie, The Hours (2002), an adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel with the same title. In Daldry’s movie three women, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) meet and reconsider their lives through the specter of Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway. For Clarissa, as opposed to Virginia and Laura, “creating and sharing fine food is an enjoyable and even artistic activity” (Bower 2), with The Hours becoming a film where food is “an important element but not the focus of the movie,” offering the audience “the opportunity to study the many ways that food and food-related activities create meaning” (Bower 2) within the intradiegetic world. This film is, as the above-discussed Adaptation, also about a re-functioning. And re-functioning is a kind of adaptation, while adaptation is a way to making films. Teresa de Lauretis claims that “cinema is directly implicated in the production and reproduction of meanings, values and ideology in both sociality and subjectivity” and, as such, it should be understood both as “signifying practice” and, like the process of adaptation, the “work of semiosis: a work that produces effects of meaning and perception, self-images and subject positions for all those involved, makers and viewers” (38). Or a re-functioning—for all those involved in it, makers and viewers alike. In this case Mrs. Dalloway is the source text and the process consists in “finding a pertinent transposition of Cunningham’s reading of Woolf’s own legacy” by confirming the evocation of a sisterhood “across narratives of independent choice, whether of life or death,” which continues into a new generation” (Brooker 118) and perhaps even beyond. Just as in Julie and Julia. With a happy coincidence of names, this movie re-functions its cookbook-source in Ephron’s own reading of Julia Child and Julie Powell, as well as Julie’s imagined Julia. These units of thought communicate through a dialogic relation, supporting, elaborating, extending, modifying and reinterpreting themselves and each other on the basis of a reference text, which is also based on previous themes and variations. Furthermore, an interesting point besides the exchange of written texts (cookbook, blog, article, novels) in the above-mentioned film adaptations is a special kind of dialogism involving a character who is present in all of them. The above-mentioned Adaptation and The Hours together with Julie and Julia, achieve an inter-filmic ‘conversation’ primarily through the character of Susan Orlean, Clarissa Vaughan, and Julia Child respectively, all played by the same actress, Meryl Streep. In this context, adaptation is thus ‘cooked’ besides Child, Powell and Ephron’s foodways, also by Streep’s own recipe of interfilmic stardom.

As Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Wheelehan claim, in most contemporary adaptations “the pleasure is in locating and celebrating an excess of interpretation, rather than attempting to close off ‘unauthorized’ ones, or suggest a hierarchy of readings” (7). Ephron’s filmic narrative, the result of a free exchange of fiction, microhistorical non-fiction, documentary, technology and film (7), subscribes to this excess of interpretation by celebrating a genuine intertextual dialogism (as enounced by Robert Stam) that re-functions Julia Child’s and Julie Powell’s recipes for cookbooks, memoirs, blogs, and novels into a postmodern film adaptation à la Nora Ephron carte.


Note: An earlier version of this text was published in Vera Benczik, Tibor Frank and Ildikó Geiger, Eds. Tanulmányok Bollobás Enikő 60. születésnapjára. Budapest: Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 2012.


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