Despite The Rumors, Julia Child Had Nothing Against Julie Powell

From the printed page to the big screen and everything in between, celebrities grab the spotlight for the slightest move or uttered word. Sometimes taken out of context or exaggerated beyond reality, it's part of the game; like it or leave it. But when it comes to culinary luminaries, it's safe to say a generational gap exists between the pioneers of food fame and internet-fueled food bloggers. Thus, the reported Julie/Julia clash featured Julia Child and Julie Powell. But is it true? The devil's in the details, as the saying goes.

Long ago debated and assumably put to rest, the rumored clash between the two gastro stars quietly flickered again as the world received news of 49-year-old Julie Powell's death, which occurred on October 26, 2022, in upstate New York, according to The New York Times. Just 20 years prior, Powell, an aspiring writer languishing in a dead-end job, set out on a self-driven venture to create every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's 1961 cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1."

Little did Powell know that goal would catapult her into culinary stardom, starting with her wildly popular "Julia/Julia Project" blog chronicling the daunting recipe experience, followed by a book deal and eventual Nora Ephron film starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci. The supposed Julie Powell and Julia Child feud gained traction when rumors circulated in 2009 due to a line in the "Julia & Julia" film, explains the Los Angeles Times.

Fuel to the fire

Fans of both Powell and Child poured into cinemas to watch the Julie/Julia story unfold, featuring Meryl Streep as the enduring beloved icon of the home kitchen and Amy Adams as the spunky modern-day blogger unafraid to let real life infuse her narrative. But, here's where the flicker of a feud appeared to catch fire, according to Grub Street.

As the story goes, viewers watched with surprise and confusion as the movie character of Powell collapsed in tears after learning from a journalist that Child didn't like the blog. However, Grub Street reveals that Eric Spivey, chairman of the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, refuted the reality of that. When the journalist questioned Child about Powell's blog, he was present and revealed that Child only expressed a lack of understanding about the relatively new phenomenon of "blogging," as well as dismay that anyone would want to cook her recipes every day.

Not a serious cook

The rumors likely also received some fuel from Child's former editor, according to the Daily Beast. Though Child passed away in 2004, five years before the film's release, editor Judith Jones opined that the cook would likely protest the film and had declined to endorse the book upon which the movie was based. Jones felt the blog was a stunt and noted that Child "didn't suffer fools." But again, credible evidence exists that the controversy was overblown. Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, a longtime professional friend of Julia Child, first introduced her to Powell's "Julie/Julia Project" blog, which Parsons considered fascinating and brilliantly executed. He printed out the entire blog procession and presented it to Child for her opinion.

Child showed no animosity or disrespect for Powell but did give a carefully considered observation that the blog didn't seem "very serious." Child noted how hard she had worked for eight years on the recipes Powell was cooking her way through, stating that she had tested them over and over to ensure any home cook could easily create them, states Parsons. However, since Powell often blogged about stumbling through the process, interweaving her life's trials along the way, Child failed to understand the soul-searching honesty and first-person narrative of a blogger's journey.

Therefore, Child's final words to Parsons on the subject remain: "She just must not be much of a cook." Parson puts it down to personality differences and generational concepts such as "professional pride."