If you can get past the preposterous and gratuitous misidentification of Streep's portrayal of Julia Child as other than criminal, there are some sort ofinteresting ideas in this NYer blog post (god that sounds weird) on the continued celebration of Child, James Beard and MFK Fisher:
Beard, Child, and Fisher were indeed great. No one has ever written like Fisher or explained how to cook as charmingly as Child. But our need to revere them as models of impeccable French taste after all these years is a little odd, considering that they themselves sought to puncture the spirit of snobbish reverence which infected the food writing of previous generations.
Well, kind of. It's not clear if the post's author (Bee Wilson) is more concerned about the crippling effects of nostalgia or of Francophilia. Considering that even Wilson concedes that all three of her triumvirate backed of Gallic rigor in the kitchen as their lives unfolded, so the real issue is the time:
“Provence 1970” is the latest book to mythologize these “iconic culinary figures.” Luke Barr is M. F. K. Fisher’s great nephew (he called her “Dote”) and a magazine editor. An enjoyable and perceptive group biography that reads as fluently as a novel, it was written with the help of a “pale green spiral notebook”—Fisher’s diary in 1970, a year when, as Barr puts it, “everyone who was anyone in the American food world” showed up in southern France.
What's the problem? People keep writing books about things people keep reading books about. Call it the GolfingFor Cats principle. This principle works both chronologically and thematically. However, Wilson wants something else from her food writing:
Barr describes many dreamy meals that could only be French. His grandmother Norah—M.F.’s younger sister—travelled with M.F. in 1970. “Norah had the oysters, M.F. had the clams, and they shared the scallops, which they agreed were beautiful. The Pomerol was superb and so was the cheese.” Again, perfect.
More seafood and cheese for the rest of us, I guess! More to the point, Wilson seems to miss that Provence 1970 is no more a cookbook than Please Kill Me is a self-help book. The analogy is overstated, but it's more interesting to read about Sid Vicious, Richard Hell, Richard Olney, et al, precisely because they lead lives that are not like our own. Speaking of nostalgia for 1970, let's ask Iggy and the lads to play us off: