Julie Powell, a food writer who gained fame online after posting a year-long blog about recreating every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which resulted in a book deal and a movie adaptation, has passed away. She was 49.
“She was a brilliant writer and a daring, original person and she will not be forgotten,” Clain said in a statement. ”We are sending our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Julie, whether personally or through the deep connections she forged with readers of her memoirs.”
Amy Adams and Meryl Streep played Powell and Child, respectively, in the hit Nora Ephron-directed film “Julie & Julia,” which was based on her 2005 book “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.” “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession,” her second and final album, was unsettling in its candor. Powell admitted to having an affair, dealing with the pain of loving two men at once, enjoying sadomasochism, and even engaging in some self-punishing sex with an unknown person.
“People coming from the movie ‘Julie & Julia’ and picking up ‘Cleaving’ are going to be in for some emotional whiplash,” she told The Associated Press in 2009. “I don’t believe it’s going to be a Nora Ephron movie.”
When Powell was finishing up her first book in 2004, she had an affair because, in her words, she was “starry-eyed and vaguely disgruntled and had too much time on my hands.” In 2006, she was able to flee her failing marriage and pursue her childhood fascination with butchers by taking a job as an apprentice at a butcher shop two hour north of New York City.
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“The way they held a knife in their hand was like an extension of themselves,” she said. “I’m a very clumsy person. I don’t play sports. That kind of physical skill is really foreign to me, and I’m really envious of that.”
The connection between butchering and her own traumatic love life is explored in the book. She writes: “It’s sad, but also a relief, to know that two things so intimately connected together can separate with such little violence, leaving smooth surfaces instead of bleeding pieces,” as she cuts the connective tissue on a pig’s leg. Her book tapped into the burgeoning interest in traditional butchery, and she found herself consuming meat less as a result of her experience slicing it. She supported the treatment and execution of animals in humane conditions.
“People want to get their hands dirty. People want to participate in the process. People want to know where their food is coming from,” Powell said. “People don’t want the mystery anymore.”
She is survived by her husband, Eric.
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