Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

by Julie Powell

Paperback, 2009



The author recounts how she escaped the doldrums of an unpromising career by mastering every recipe in Julia Child's 1961 classic, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," a year-long endeavor that transformed her life.

Media reviews

Although I don’t really believe that Julie Powell finds a Julia Child-like satisfaction in the art of cooking, her bloggy memoir offers the pleasures of witnessing a thoroughly grumpy, foul-mouthed New Yorker go through a laughable late-twenties identity crisis, discover the erotic allure of good food, and tell terrible gossip about all her best friends. More than her descriptions of (badly) attempting Julia Child’s recipes or even discovering a new career, Powell’s passages evoking the sensual delights of food connect Julie & Julia to the vivid memories in My Life in France.

User reviews

LibraryThing member wenestvedt
I know this will sting the author, but I wish there was less of her internal monologue in this book, and more about the food. When the book addresses Child's book and the recipes and the ingredients and the execution of the recipes, I loved it -- but when the author talked about her self and her job and her relationships, I skimmed ahead. (And that part about "The Joy of Sex" in the opening chapter almost made me abandon the entire book immediately.… (more)
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
I've held off on writing this review as long as possible but I have to face the facts that I did not like this book. I thought I would because I adore cooking and really liked the premise of the project. The fault likes with Julie Powell. I did not like her. She comes across as whiny, spoiled, self-absorbed, foul-mouthed, conceited, and just unlikeable. I actually found myself sympathizing with her put-upon husband for having to deal with her day in, day out.

Finishing the book, I was still confused as to why Ms. Powell decided to undertake the project. I've been known to do something without really figuring out my reasons for doing it, but at least my projects have had some form of professional gain to them. In addition, in spite of protestations to the contrary, I never got the impression that Ms. Powell truly enjoyed the project. It seemed more like a job, from start to finish, one she obsessed and cursed over as she did her regular job with the government. Her focus on the blog makes me think she was in it solely for the publicity. As a blogger, I find this rather contemptible. I blog for my own personal satisfaction, not for an audience. If one happens to find me, I'm not going to turn them away, but to write only because my audience expects it, to me is the worst reason to blog.

As for Ms. Powell herself, wow. As a thirty-something female, I should have had quite the connection with her. I adore Buffy the Vampire Slayer, her favorite TV show. I recently experienced the trauma of turning 30 too. I've had my own low-paying, low-prestige government jobs. Still, I found her utterly unlikeable. She wasn't cute or charming or funny. Rather, she was pretentious. She lived for the attention, and it came across with every word written. Even her choice to use cuss words seemed like a cry for attention. I have a mouth like a sailor too, but I would NEVER use them in a such a permanent record like anything in writing. It says something about you, who you are, and to me, can give the wrong impression. I want to be known for the message behind my words and not because of any scandal related to using cuss words.

I was really bothered by her relationship with her husband. To criticize him for his migraines, as if they were something that he could really avoid or got just to annoy her really set me on edge. It seemed like her definition of marriage was to take, take, take while her poor husband gave and gave and gave. Given her theatrics with each cooking endeavor, I'm not certain how he made it through the year with her.

I thought that this project was a great idea. And then I read some of the descriptions of the food and realized that I would never undertake something like this myself. Aspic, brains, liver, kidneys - just not for me. That and the butter. My arteries are hardening and my cholesterol rose just reading about the sticks and sticks of butter used during the project. Apparently, while I love cooking, I do not love French cooking.

In all, this book was just not for me. I know others who have loved it though and thought it was hilarious. Whether or not you like the book depends on your impression of Ms. Powell, how well you relate to her and whether you find herlikeable or not. As a memoir, your relationship with her as the author forms the basis for your entire opinion of the book. Unfortunately, I just could not overcome my dislike for her enough to enjoy the book as much as others have.

I do want to thank Anna Balasi at Hachette Books for letting me review this book. I was really excited about reading it, and I am truly disappointed that I couldn't like the book more.
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LibraryThing member crazy4reading
Well I just finished reading Julie and Julia, the book about the blogger that decided to cook all the recipes in Master the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I don't even know where to begin with this review. I didn't love the book that is one thing. I didn't really hate the book either. I just know that I will never try to Master the Art of French Cooking. I like to cook but I wouldn't want to torture myself or anyone that I am cooking for either.

I had decided to read Julie and Julia since I had seen parts of the movie already. I enjoyed most of the movie that I have seen. I hope to watch the movie from beginning to end at some point then I can give a better review of the movie.

There are a few things that I didn't care for in the book and that was the ramblings of Julie. The book just felt like she did a lot of rambling and whining. She would complain about her real job, her decision to do this project, her friends, her biological clock ticking away, her mother, etc. You name it she complained about it. It was funny at first but after awhile it became annoying and I noticed that I would skim over those parts. Julie also had a very foul mouth during this project, whether this is a reflection of how she really handles stress or her actual personality I really can't say. I just know that saying the 'f' word as often as she did just doesn't make me think of her as a lady or female.

I would love to hear from some of her followers from the blog. It would be interesting to really just see what they found so fascinating about her project let alone how they actually found the blog and decided to stick with her through the whole project.

I can not tell you to read or not to read this book. You have to decide for yourself because it is not something I feel everyone will enjoy reading. I am not one that will only read so many pages before I decide to stop reading. I will read a book to the end so that I can give it a full review. I may soon decide to start saying that if I am not enjoying the book from either 50 to 100 pages in then I should stop reading the book.

If you love to cook you may enjoy reading this book. If you have Master the Art of French Cooking you may be able to enjoy the book even more since you will undoubtedly be familiar with all if not most of the recipes Julie attempts. I have to give this book about 2 stars. Just not my cup of tea...
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LibraryThing member aiuliano
This is one of the few books where I would say that the movie is better. Powell is always nearly hitting her stride...nearly. She very nearly writes a powerful story...she nearly develops an interesting plot...nearly. Unfortunately, she comes off as whiny and a little crazy. I am a firm believer that having potential is the worst kind of curse because it is so easy for everyone to see how close you are to being great. This entire book I only saw potential, leading me to slight disappointment. An inspired story hindered by a mediocre writer. I will say that the idea is wholly unique and I loved the potential parallels between Julia Childs' life and Powell's own. The potential for a constructive message of growth and contextual wisdom was so very high...Watch the movie instead.… (more)
LibraryThing member abitbookish
I was disappointed in this book. I didn't expect her journey to be a walk in the park, but I also didn't expect to dislike her so. I've read about the comparison to Anthony Bourdains Kitchen Confidential, but where Bourdain is irreverant and often profane he still keeps his likeability, his charm. Powell comes off whiney, annoying and you find yourself feeling for her husband. I will say I give props to her for her unblatant honesty and I have respect for the fact that she accomplished such a feat. Since I've never cooked my way through an entire French cookbook, perhaps my critique of her is invalid. I just really wanted to like her more, so I'm hoping Amy Adams on screen injects her with charm. Surprisingly, this is one time I hope the book is different and better than the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member ccqdesigns
Well, this was quick. I usually read to page 100 before stopping, but frankly, I have so many books in my TBR pile, I am getting pickier. I can see where this book might be a fun movie to attend, but as for reading, I found Julie an unbearable character with no depth. The writing was easy reader 101 and I was just bored. I don't want to be bored, I want a book to grab me and not let go, I want to forget that my bottom is sore from sitting too long. I want to forget that it is 2 am. This book would never do that. So, I put it down at page 63.… (more)
LibraryThing member valeriereads
I did make it to the end of this book. I hated it but since I had spent the money on it--usually I check books out from the library--especially this 'pop culture' type--I read it to the crazy end. Powell is shallow and stupid and so is her book. I thought it was just me, but I can see I am not alone. I love Julia Child--watched her as a child--and on through to her death. I think Powell's idea was good enough: her execution is terrible. Sorry I wasted my money. Won't ever read anything she writes again. The liberal use of profranity and the description of her friends' sex lives was redundant and I hate to tell her: actually UN-sexy. Powell is gross. Including her housekeeping and her plumbing problems. Disgusting boorish book.… (more)
LibraryThing member LucyHermy
I loved the idea of this book, and I was truly expecting to like it. However, I couldn't even finish it. The story structure/organization confused me and I just didn't find her all that compelling of a writer.
LibraryThing member alexdaw
Oooh. Well I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. Me and food go together like....well...whatever....toast and jam....cheese and biscuits...chips and dips.

There was much of me that identified with the author. How many of us have been stuck in jobs far beneath our talents???? I suspect her husband is far too good to be true and should be nominated for next sanctification or whatever you call making saints.

I also strongly identified with the comfort to be derived from cookery books and their ilk. My personal favourites are my mother's collection of no less than six books on etiquette. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management also has a special place in my heart and when feeling lost I always like to look up various lists e.g. how many sets of linen or towels one should have in one's abode or how to find good domestic staff. Don't accept a written reference - go and seek a personal one from a former employer and all that stuff. Great consolation in a world with no rules.

A bit of me was fascinated that the author should choose to work her way through a whole chapter on tarts (rather than jumping around for variety's sake) and the passages on lobster are not for the faint-hearted. Having said that, it certainly did not put me off my lobster mornay shared with my father and his partner on Father's Day last weekend. Turning a blind eye is another favourite pasttime of mine.

I was not enamoured of the book as much as I had hoped but I fear that is always the way with great expectations. Often they are dashed. Mine weren't dashed exactly. In fact I strongly suspect a large dash of envy on my part that our heroine had the stamina to see her project through to the end - no matter how ridiculous it might seem in hindsight - setting a goal and achieving it are not to be sneezed at. Julie Powell has done not only that but a bit more as well....bless her.
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LibraryThing member goldiebear
I found this book quite annoying to be honest. I found the writing style overly wordy and hard to get through. I found the author to be pretentious and a little snobby. How on earth did she have enough money to buy all of these crazy ingredients all the time, even though she was a temp? (Which was made quite clear through out the book). I also thought she assumed a lot. There seem to be a lot of skills necessary to complete such a project and somehow magically Julie knew all of them. Now, I am a cooking novice here and I just didn't quite understand all the techniques she was talking about half the time. I didn't realize it was a requirement.

Her endless ranting about her friends and "bleaders" was just plain obnoxious. Who cares about your friend Isabel or Sally or whats-her-name. Sometimes I found this book more to be about her weirdo friends than cooking. And then all of a sudden national newspapers and TV shows start calling? All because of this cooking blog? Hummm.. not sure I buy it. To me it just seemed she was bragging about it and made me dislike her even more.

But kudos to her for completing her goal. I always like to see and hear about people who follow through on things.
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LibraryThing member coffeenut1992
I have to say that I was quite disappointed with this book. I was really looking forward to it, and it really could have been a great book, except for the fact that there is an obscene amount of profanity! I'd guess that there is an average of one F-word per PAGE! Now I'm not a prude, but I was extremely annoyed by the fact that I paid to be sworn at. There was NO NEED for it at all.

I really with this book had been either edited (the swearing could even have been bleeped or something) or that there had been an advisory on the cover. If a soundtrack had this many F-bombs in it, there would be an advisory, so why not for books?
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LibraryThing member cestovatela
Julie and Julia is non-fictional chick lit, the true story of a funny, hip, frazzled and dissatisfied New Yorker who finds salvation between the pages of a Julia Child cookbook. On the eve of her 30th birthday, Julie Powell finds both her personality and her life increasingly intolerable -- and so does her husband. With nowhere else to turn, the unhappy secretary vows to cook each of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's landmark cookbook, The Art of French Cooking. The catch? She'll complete all of the recipes in a single year, and document her successes and failures in a blog.

Some readers complain that Julie is an insufferable narrator, so obsessed with her own neuroses that the food can't shine through. I disagree. This is not a book about cooking; it's a book about how cooking transformed a life, and to understand that, we have to understand the dark, stultifying place Julie is escaping from. Like a lot of chick lit heroines, Julie is sometimes annoyingly over-the-top, but I think she knows that about herself. That's why the book is overflowing with wry humor and witty asides. Not every ordinary person can write about her life in an interesting way, but Julie Powell brings her marriage, her friendships and her food to equally vivid life. When I think back on this book later, no doubt I'll remember wacky hijinks with bone marrow and thymus glands, but more than that, I'll remember feeling like I found a kindred spirit. This book encapsulated so many of the things I believe in my own life: that food is sexy, that salvation comes from unexpected places, and that happiness comes from following our own eccentric dreams in unique directions.
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LibraryThing member LizanneVee
I do believe that my husband enjoyed the movie more than I enjoyed the book. He was laughing out loud on the airplane, not noticing the glances of his fellow passengers as he did so. I struggled through this one, only finishing it out of sheer hope that the story will start capturing me towards the end. And yeah, some stubbornness. Have yet to see the movie.… (more)
LibraryThing member titania86
Julie Powell is a corporate drone who hates her job and is pretty miserable. On a whim, she decided to cook her way through the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. In the next year, Julie goes through break downs, blow ups, and blunders, bringing her friends and family with her. She also finds herself and joy in the process.

I both like and dislike Julie at the same time. I like that she is so brutally honest about herself. In a venue like a blog, it’s very easy to lie about yourself to make you seem better than in real life. I think it’s safe to say that Julie did not do this. Every blow up and petty fight with her husband is described, no matter how irrational or bad it makes her look. She even talks about how she neglected her apartment so badly that there were maggots in her sink. I also love that Julie is a nerd. (I can say this because I am one myself.) She is a loyal Joss Whedon fan and plays Civilization PC game. She is kind of foul mouthed, although I know quite a few people who would put her to shame. Julie is like many of the people I hang out with on a regular basis. I dislike her in the same way I would one of my friends for mistreating their significant other or blowing up over trivial details: just enough to be annoyed at them, but not enough to not be their friend anymore.

Julie’s narrative is interspersed with excerpts from letters and stories from Julia’s life. Sometimes these felt a little pointless and I felt that the film accomplished this much better. I think reading My Life in France by Julia Child would be more effective.

Julie and Julia is not just about cooking, but about a woman’s journey to find herself and her purpose in life. Anyone who has felt lost or hated their job can relate to Julie.
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LibraryThing member Lenaphoenix
There are some inspired moments in Julie Powell’s memoir of the year she spent cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Powell can be a very funny writer, and the book is sprinkled with abundant samples of the snarky wit that no doubt made the blog on which this book was based so popular. Her topic is certainly a rich one—the processes of making gelatin from actual calves’ feet or flaying a lobster alive while feeling a generous dose of liberal guilt certainly offer many opportunities for colorful commentary.

Despite Powell’s detail in discussing some of her greatest disasters while cooking from Childs’ book, she spends significantly less time on general food writing than you’d expect given the theme. This not so much a sensual celebration of food as it is the diary of a frustrated New York secretary who spent a year cooking like a madwoman. While some of Powell’s digressions away from her kitchen are entertaining, others seem widely off-topic and detract from the book’s focus.

Still, the book is generally pretty readable, though I did struggle at times with Powell’s tone. Her sharp sense of humor is not always enough to balance out her frequent griping as she struggles to complete her task while simultaneously working in a government office run by (gasp!) Republicans. While it was interesting to read how the popularity of her blog snowballed into national news coverage and a book deal, the book ultimately left me with little understanding of how the alchemy of the cooking process worked its magic on the author itself. Except, of course, for all the swearing it made her do.
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LibraryThing member irishwasherwoman
I read this because I discovered the trailer for the movie which comes out in Aug. I'm not a particular fan of Julia Child, but I was fascinated seeing Meryl Streep as Julia. Now having read the book, I think this is one instance in which the movie will actually be better than the book.

Good for Julie Powell for taking on such a hurculean challenge. I'm not into cooking or exotic foods, but reading about it was fun - too a certain extent. The author's histrionics were at time a bit much. Much of the book was really shallow and did not shine until she reflected upon her experience at the end.

By the way, if you ever do get invited to eat at her place, don't go unless she's hired a maid......
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LibraryThing member pbjwelch
Actually found it quite banal. I like books about food; I love Julia Child and grew up literally down the street from her in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but I found the book's protagonist much less interesting and learned nothing at all about food or cooking I hadn't already learned from Julia herself. I read it on a cruise ship while being distracted; good place to read it.… (more)
LibraryThing member jaimehuff1
First off, before I even picked this book up I wasn't sure what to think. It sort of sat on my book shelf just leering at me to read it. Honestly, I am not a memoir kind of girl. I think my "real" life is full of enough action, drama, tears, suspense, heartache, happiness, laughs, trials and tribulations to fill 10 memoirs. Well, once I picked it up.. I couldn't stop!

Julie Powell is candid, foul mouthed, angry, sarcastic and dramatic. I loved her. Seriously. She was so honest about her feelings, thoughts, desires and her life that I couldn't help but nod my head laughing because I can understand her! She even talks about the MAGGOTS IN HER SINK! How's that for honesty? "Julie & Julia" is not so much about Julia Childs, cooking, blogging as much as it is about Julie trying to find herself. She is turning 30, has a "syndrome" (as she calls Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and isn't sure if she can have kids, stuck in a government secretarial position which was responsible for Ground Zero (the site where the World Trade Center Towers stood), married and living in New York City. On a trip to visit her parents in Texas, she snatches her mother's copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I". Her husband, Eric, suggests she blogs about cooking through the cookbook. The rest, as they say, is history. She becomes an internet hit, all the while cussing her way through the cookbook (honestly, I cuss just making crepes, I can't imagine what it's like through Julia Child's meals), and trying to find herself. My favorite part was nearing the end, after Julia Child learns of Julie's project and doesn't "care" too much for it. (I just want to throw this in, Julia was pushing 90 when this was going on, probably cantakerous and not understanding about blogs, technology and the like) I loved it when Julie and Eric (her husband) visit Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian and leaves a stick of butter (remember, Julia cooks French food. Read: lots of butter). Pure awesomeness.

If you are looking for a book about Julia Child, cooking or even blogging, keep looking. If you want a book about personal growth, while cooking through a Julia Child cookbook and blogging about it, then this book is for you. However, be forewarned, there is a LOT of cussing, talk about sex (not pornographic, just the subject of sex) and she is a Democrat who does some Republican bashing, not so much as bashing but gives them a hard time (none of these bother me, just a warning for those it might). If any of those bother you, pass. If they don't, I say pick up "Julie & Julia" and have a good laugh. I know I did.
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LibraryThing member verka6811
Let's say, for example, that you are in your late twenties, living in New York City in a something-is-always-going wrong apartment, and working at a miserable dead-end secretarial job at a government agency. What do you do to stir up your life? Well, cook every recipe - 524 of them - from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I by Julia Child in 365 days of course! And that is precisely what Julie Powell, the author of Julie & Julia, set out to do.

Living in one of the most exciting cities and having a loving and supporting husband aside, Julie Powell was stuck in a rut. On a visit to her parents', Julie rediscovered the cookbook that appealed to her so much when she was a child; at her husband's urging, Julie decided to cook and blog her way through the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking, dubbing it the "Julie/Julia Project". What followed was a year of entirely too much butter, aspic, things that refused to gel together, extracting bone marrow, the trauma of killing lobsters, and the list goes on. Through her cooking triumphs and disasters, frozen pipes, a freezing apartment and sludge filled sinks, Julie discovers a new meaning to life and comes to the realization that anything is possible.

Julia & Julia is a joy to read; you might find yourself laughing (or at least smiling) at Julie's remarks and her susceptibility to calamities of all kinds. Julie spares no punches when it comes to her beliefs, - her anti-Republican remarks may be offensive to some - but her memoir is straight forward, witty, inspirational and often flat-out hilarious.

Bon Appetit!
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LibraryThing member heidialice
Julie Powell, pushing thirty and stuck in an unfulfilling secretary job in New York, impulsively decides to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' in one year, and document her project in a blog.

Julie is hilarious, self-deprecating, sharp-tongued and opinionated. While there is the undertone of dissatisfaction, she never becomes self-pitying. This is a true hero's journey, as Julie figures out what the heck to do with herself.… (more)
LibraryThing member OliviainNJ
Instead of Julie & Julia, the book should have been titled "Julie, Julie, Julie." It hardly touched on the relationship the author had, in her head or otherwise, with Julia Child. It hardly touched on anything at all except her angst at realizing she was just another McPerson in The Big City.

I enjoyed the book at the beginning. The author started out with a witty writing style and it had potential as a work of domestic humor, but after a couple of hundred pages of the same stuff, I just wanted it to be over. I think it would have benefited from an editor who cut it down by 75 pages or so.

The biggest problem is that, in the end, you're left asking, "What's the point?" The book was peppered with references to the events of September 11th, because the author worked for an agency that was involved in the event, but that just seemed to be another source of her annoyance, rather than leading to something significant. She comes to no great revelations about herself or her situation. Instead, she seems to be just another 30-something who manages to parlay a unique Web 2.0 idea into a good gig. Good for her for that, at least.
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LibraryThing member keywestnan
I was dubious about this book -- it started out as a blog and it was a "my year of" gimmick -- two strikes. As it happens, I wound up liking it a lot. I think it all depends on whether you like the author's voice or not -- as it happens, I did -- she's a wise ass (even about potentially fraught subjects like working at the government agency responsible for the 9/11 memorial) and she's funny as hell. At least to a certain type of sensibility. I would never in a million years dream of attempting something like The Project -- leek and potato soup is probably the most ambitious recipe out of Julia Child I'd even think of trying to make -- but I'm impressed that somone did -- especially someone with a job. Brava!… (more)
LibraryThing member Carolfoasia
I read My Life in France by Julia Child. I was delighted! I wanted to tie it up by reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell before I saw the movie.

Can I just say that I usually will get through any book? If you look at my books in Library Thing, you will see that I have plowed through a ton of very diffcult books. I am a "closure" type of person. I like to finish things that I start.

I really did try! I struggled mightily and could only get to p. 95 of this book! I put it on Library Thing as a book read though because I worked hard to get even that far.

I did not like Julie's cynical, negative, condescending (especially toward people of a different political party than her own), and very foul-mouthed style. When she told her husband to "F--- off!" on p. 95 (for no reason that I could see), I had had enough of her potty talk. Put it down and brought it back to the bookstore for a refund.

The next day, I went to buy tickets for the movie, and the lady said she had been trying to read the book, but she just didn't like it. I gave her permission to put it down. I told her where I left of (p.95). She said, "Oh, it gets MUCH worse later on in the book! I am not a prude, but some of the things she talks about are pretty disgusting." She was so relieved to know she was not the only person who felt that way.

I feel sorry for all the people who will see the movie and pick the book up to get more details only to find that the character in the movie is NOTHING like Julie. In this case, I say the movie is much better and Julie could learn much from being a nicer and less foul-mouthed, mean-spirited human being.

Skip this book. It is not worth your time.
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LibraryThing member pictou
Pretty good, I'm fond of Julia Child so I picked this one up.
LibraryThing member Zmrzlina
Very funny, in places, but a bit too many hysterical tantrums. While I admire the author for sticking to what had to take an incredible amount of perseverance, but it is cooking, for goodness sake, not brain surgery. Although, there is some cutting into brains, and live lobsters, and oozing bone marrow. Plenty of ewwww factor to go with the laughs.

I admit that after reading the book, I am inspired to copy, however I would like to use Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and skip all the mushroom recipes.
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Little, Brown and Company (2009), Edition: Reprint, 400 pages


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

400 p.; 4.13 inches


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