Julie Powell · 310 pages
Rating: (136.8K votes)
“But the not-very-highbrow truth of the matter was that the reading was how I got my ya-yas out.
For the sake of my bookish reputation I upgraded to Tolstoy and Steinbeck before I understood them, but my dark secret was that really, I preferred the junk. The Dragonriders of Pern, Flowers in the Attic, The Clan of the Cave Bear. This stuff was like my stash of Playboys under the mattress.”
“The nice thing about having a friend who is crazier than you are is that she bolsters your belief in your own sanity.”
“If there's a sexier sound on this planet than the person you're in love with cooing over the crepes you made for him, I don't know what it is.”
“I love my husband like a pig loves shit.”
“Doors are going to open-doors you can't even imagine exist.”
“Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It's not what I thought it was. I thought it wa all about-I don't know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there's something else, somethng that these things grow out of. It's joy.”
“Nowadays anyone with a crap laptop and an Internet connection can sound their barbaric yawp, whatever it may be.”
“I felt like a Jane Austen heroine all of a sudden, confusedly looking on at all the people she loves, their myriad unpredictable couplings and uncouplings. There would be no marriages at the end of this Austen novel, though, no happy endings, no endings at all. Just jokes and friendships and romances and delicious declarations of independence.”
“But hard bitten cynicism leaves one feeling peevish, and too much of it can do lasting damage to your heart.”
“Two years ago, I was a twenty-nine year old secretary. Now I am a thirty-one year old writer. I get paid very well to sit around in my pajamas and type on my ridiculously fancy iMac, unless I'd rather take a nap. Feel free to hate me -- I certainly would.”
“Without the Project I was nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting toward frosted hair and menthol addiction.”
“There are times with your friends when you just have to put their whole mess out of your mind for a while.”
“So the end may be a long time coming, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a way of sneaking up on you.”
“If I had thought the beef marrow might be a hell of a lot of work for not much difference, I needn’t have worried. The taste of the marrow is rich, meaty, intense in a nearly-too-much way. In my increasingly depraved state, I could think of nothing at first but that it tasted like really good sex. But there was something more than that, even. What it really tastes like is life, well lived. Of course the cow I got marrow from had a fairly crappy life – lots of crowds and overmedication and bland food that might or might not have been a relative. But deep in his or her bones, there was a capacity for feral joy. I could taste it.”
“The road to hell is paved with leeks and potatoes”
“A new enterprise awaits. It hangs before you like fruit on a tree.”
“And I realized that, for this night at least, I didn't much care if anyone was the marrying kind or not - not even me. Who could tell? We none of us knew for sure WHAT kind we were, exactly, but as long as were the kind that could sit around eating together and having a lovely time, that was enough.”
“... I began to ponder; this life we had for ourselves, Eric and I, it felt like the opposite of Potage Parmentier. It was easy enough to keep on with the soul-sucking jobs; at least it saved having to make a choice. But how much longer could I take such an easy life? Quicksand was easy. Hell, death was easy. Maybe that's why my synapses had started snapping at the sight of potatoes and leeks in the Korean deli. Maybe that was what was plucking deep down in my belly whenever I thought of Julia Child's book. Maybe I needed to make like a potato, winnow myself down, be a part of something that was not easy, just simple.”
“It was only once I was in the car ... that the only two reasons I hadn't joined right in with the loon with the gray crew cut, beating my head and screaming "Fuck!" in primal syncopation, were (1) I'd be embarrassed and (2) I didn't want to get my cute vintage suit any dirtier than it already was. Performance anxiety and a dry-cleaning bill, those were the only things keeping me from stark raving lunacy. ”
“I didn't understand for a long time, but what attracted me to MtAoFC [Mastering the Art of French Cooking] was the deeply buried aroma of hope and discovery of fulfillment in it. I thought I was using the Book to learn to cook French food, but really I was learning to sniff out the secret doors of possibility.”
“Fiddling with damp tarragon left me so intensely irritated that when I was done I had to stick the ramekin/mise en place bowls back in the fridge and go watch both the episode where Xander is possessed by a demon and the one where Giles regresses to his outrageously sexy teen self and has sex with Buffy’s mom, just to get over it.”
“There, I was just a secretary-shaped confederation of atoms, fighting the inevitability of mediocrity and decay. But here, in the Juliaverse... energy was never lost, merely converted from one form to another. Here, I took butter and cream and meat and eggs and I made delicious sustenance.”
“Maybe I needed to make like a potato, winnow myself down, be part of something that was not easy, just simple.”
“For stalker food, Martha Stewart is the woman to go to.”
“I have never looked to religion for comfort - belief is just not in my genes. But reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking - childishly simple and dauntingly complex, incantatory and comforting - I thought this was what prayer must feel like. Sustenance bound up with anticipation and want. Reading MtAoFC was like reading pornographic Bible verses.”
“I took a bite of lobster meat with rice. It was quite tasty. 'Arguing the morality of slaughter will send you into a tailspin of self-loathing every time.' 'Unless you're a vegan.' 'Uh-huh. But then you're a vegan and you don't count.”
“Maybe if the men in my life weren’t always making smart-ass comments, they wouldn’t have to worry about bruises so much.”
“You know that dejection that comes upon you when you realize that the person you're talking to might as well be from Jupiter, for all the chance you have of making them get what you're saying? I hate that.”
“I never really even tried. But if I'm not a New York actress, what am I? I'm a person who takes a subway from the outer boroughs to lower Manhattan office every morning, who spends her days answering phones and doing copying, who is too disconsolate when she gets back to her apartment at night to do anything but sit on the couch and stare vacantly at reality TV shows until she falls asleep. Oh Godm it really was true, wasn't it? I really was a secretary.”
“Unfortunately, Martha's recipes, though suitably complex, fall a tad short if you're looking for aphrodisiac cooking, perhaps only because everything about a Martha recipe, from the font it's printed in to the call for sanding sugar, with appended notes on where to find such a thing, simply screams Martha. ”
“trust your body it reacts to right and wrong better than your mind does”
“It is August.
My life is going to change. I feel it.”
“And only the enlightened can recall their former lives; for the rest of us, the memories of past existences are but glints of light, twinges of longing, passing shadows, disturbingly familiar, that are gone before they can be grasped, like the passage of that silver bird on Dhaulagiri.”
“Kat had her arms folded and her hair was tied in what girls call a topknot. Her skinny, bony face jutted out. With her tilted chin and dark eyebrows she seemed sharper, somehow, as if she was more in focus than other people round her, or more real. You couldn't help noticing her, whether you were looking for her or not.
Maybe that's what being pretty meant, I thought. ”
“Today I was a teacher, employed. True, I was also a teacher untried, but that could also be an advantage. I would learn, by God I’d learn. Nothing was going to stop me.”
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