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Girl in a jacket

The life and times of Julie Powell, the person behind ‘The Julie/Julia Project’

It was reported on October 26 that American author Julie Powell had passed away. She was 49. Her husband has stated in the media that the cause was cardiac arrest.

Powell is best known for her blog The Julie/Julia Project, in which she chronicled her attempts to spend a year cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” This blogspot project had gained her widespread recognition, eventually even getting a Meryl Streep and Amy Adams-starrer titled “Julie & Julia,” which was largely based on her experiences about her food blog project. Some media outlets have even touted the late writer as the person who changed the food writing landscape in the US.

Powell’s story began when she worked a low-level administration job with aspirations to be a writer, which prompted her to start her blog and cooking challenge, as a way of implementing structure to her days and setting a change of pace. She was determined to cook all 542 recipes of Julia Child’s recipe book, a worn out book handed down to her by her mother. However, the challenge did not prove to be an easy task as she did not receive any formal training, and she found the process in accomplishing her goal very strenuous.

Her particular style of writing and narration about her difficulties in the kitchen–with its brand of authenticity, sincerity, humor, and its fair share of frustrations–allowed readers to relate and endear themselves to her particular style of writing. People tuned in to see whether she would be able to accomplish her goal, amassing loyal followers that numbered in thousands of readers.

Her blog was eventually turned into a book that sold millions of copies entitled “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously”.

Outside of her writing career, Powell was also known for her stance on particular issues. Powell, who was also an advocate of animals, maintained a social media presence that allowed her to voice out her beliefs and opinions, even expressing her feelings whenever there was something that bothered or upset her. In recent memory, she’d been very vocal about her views on vaccination and about the pandemic. She had expressed on several occasions that it was imperative for people to get vaccinated, and even stressed that she did not feel comfortable mingling with people who haven’t been jabbed yet.

She had also expressed her opinions regarding anti-vaxxers rather strongly. Some of her statements had been perceived as too aggressive, and was taken as offensive by those who had differing opinions. Unfortunately, the sudden news of her death became a gold mine for anti-vaxxers, with some opining that this was karma in full display, and that she deserved what had happened to her. Some have even used the news of her death to point out why vaccines are dangerous.

Although the end of a life is always tragic, there is much to be said about the legacy left behind by Julie Powell. It is because of her that many people from the early 2000s became inspired to start their own food blogs…she became a constant, virtual motivator to improve their skills in the kitchen. She has left her mark on those who followed her journey in testing her abilities and limits, and sharing laughter and moments of human connection with so many others who were inspired by her.

May people remember Julie Powell for this legacy instead. /VT


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