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L.A. Popcorn Adventure #137
August 05, 2009

A Chicken in Every Pot

Julie and Julia + Touring the Original Los Angeles Farmers' Market

We've all been tempted to eat our way through the rough patches in life, but Julie Powell took it to a whole new level when she set out to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. A frustrated writer in a dead-end job, Powell blogged about her endeavors, gaining readership and a book deal on her culinary journey to happiness. Julie and Julia (directed by Nora Ephron and opening August 8) swirls Powell's struggle to find herself together with an intimate portrayal of Julia Child during the years when she fell in love with French cuisine. Meryl Streep's portrayal of the 6'2" gawky genius, Julia Child, is irresistible (not to mention Oscar worthy). Watching an exasperated young Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) tumble to the kitchen floor, lamenting the loss of an overcooked beef bourguignon, is all the more delicious after witnessing Julia Child's squeal of success after mastering a rapid onion dice at The Cordon Bleu. With gorgeous food photography and two mesmerizing performances, Julie and Julia takes the cake for our favorite movie this summer.

It's hard to believe that Americans weren't always hooked on Iron Chef or organic veggies, but watching Julie and Julia reminds us how far we've come since Julia's cookbook changed how Americans think about dinner. We're glad that our kids have finally begun to venture away from a steady diet of chicken fingers and spaghetti, so we jumped on the chance to join a Melting Pot Tour of the Farmers' Market (the Original one, at the Grove, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year).  We tasted doughnuts at Bob's Doughnuts and Coffee, Brazilian food at Pampas Grill, macaroons at Little Next Door, American Mac ‘n Cheese at Joan's on Third, several teas at Chado, and Japanese noodles at Mishima. Olives and bread at Monsieur Marcel came with the story of the secret caviar cheese recipe buried in an underground safe and we savored the tradition of a Pink Elephant Cake while monkey bread melted in our mouths. The tour combined the familiar (freshly baked doughnuts) and the new (fried yucca sprinkled with Parmesan from the Churrasco Brazilian buffet), and everything was portioned in bite size pieces so our kids could feel daring knowing they only had to try a little taste. We all loved connecting the history of LA to the homey tastes in our mouths.

Film Title: Julie and Julia
Directed By: Nora Ephron
2009, Rated PG-13, 123 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:

  • Why It's Worth It: If you love to eat, you'll love this film! Other than young teenage boys (who think pizza is an art form) everyone over twelve will love this film. Streep embodies Child in a delicious fashion, taking first Paris and then a whole nation of American housewives along with her as she falls in love with all things culinary. Amy Adams is equally impassioned about food (and maybe even Julia, to a greater extent) and although her story line isn't at all as intriguing, her culinary devotion is equally infectious.
  • Red Flags: The film tells the story of two marriages, the struggle of two women to solve their career dilemmas and as such has a few spicy moments in the bedroom. Not nudity, but sexuality - which in this case is actually more arresting. Click here to read the NYTimes article on why sexuality in older couples is rarely seen on film.
  • Further Viewing: If your kids aren't sure who Julia Child is, here is a clip from a cute episode of The French Chef on YouTube.

Our Tips for Talking with your kids about this Film:

  • Literary Savvy: The film is based on two books, Julie Powell's novel adapted from her blog, Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen, and Julia Child's memoir My Life in France, co-written by her grand-nephew Alex Prud'homme.  Written in the year before Julia Child's death at age 91 in August of 2004, My Life in France is a lovestory, about Julia's love for her husband Paul, and her passion for France, French cuisine, and food in general.  The book was in the works since 1969, when Julia and Paul organized the records, letters, and photographs of their life in France between 1948 and 1954, but it was not until after her beloved husband's death in 2003, that she finally began to pen the memoir with Prud'homme.
  • Career Savvy: Both Julie Powell and Julia Child had vastly different plans for their future, and it is doubtful that either woman expected to become a culinary sensation.  Julia Child did not begin cooking until she entered Le Cordon Bleu at age 37, and Julie Powell was working a low-level administrative position when it dawned on her to begin the Julie/Julia Project which subsequently lead to her fame.  Both women are inspirational in that they are living proof that fulfillment and career success can go hand-in-hand.  Julie Powell even said of her heroine Julia Child, "I was drowning and she pulled me out of the ocean."


Melting Pot Tours of LA's Farmers' Market

Friday and Saturday mornings from 9:30 to 1PM

Meet at the corner of Fairfax and Third

Reservations required -- 424.247.9666

Hours:   Daily 9:30 - 5PM

Age Recommendation:  Ages 9 and up for the tour

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom on Taking Kids on a Melting Pot Tour

  • What Worked for Us: Come hungry! We ate and ate and ate, an those little bite size pieces added up to a full meal. The Farmers Market can be overwhelming, most locals don't know how to best use it.  The tour taught us how to navigate the stalls and which vendors offered the unique items we would cross town to buy.  Our kids can make a beeline to Bob's for doughnuts, Littlejohn's for toffee, and Thee's for pastries, funny how those locations stuck in their brains! The tour starts at Farmers Market and after two hours moves down 3rd Street for approximately a mile.  There are numerous points to stop, sit, and eat so the walk is easy.  We were given the option to either walk back or return by bus, we chose to walk and loved it.
  • The Original Los Angeles Farmers' Market: Click here for the website.
  • History of the Market: While the tour is full of food, it's just as much about learning the history of the area.  The Gilmore family opened the market 75 years ago and still owns it.  They started the market by allowing farmers to meet, open up the back of their trucks, and sell food.  The Gilmores were one of the first Los Angeles families to strike oil right in the Farmer's Market area and the original gas pumps stand in the replica gas station. Diane pointed out the vendors who passed their business down to their children and even one who met his wife while making candy.  The kids enjoyed experiencing their local history through food.
  • Prices: Adults are $49 and kids are $25, however look for discounts on Goldstar.
  • Other Food Tours: Melting Pot Tours also tours Old Pasadena and offers periodic Progressive Dinners, see their website for dates and times.

Our Tips for Extending this Adventure:

  • 75th Anniversary of the Farmer's Market: This summer the Farmer's Market celebrates its 75th anniversary.  There are regular events all summer long, including a music series on Thursdays and Fridays from 7PM to 9PM and a family fun series every other Sunday from noon to 3PM.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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