Yesterday, searching as always for some way to pass the time, Susie and I stumbled on the lovely old 2009 movie Julie and Julia. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the movie follows the early career of Julia Child while simultaneously following the year in which Julie Powell undertook to make all of the more than 500 recipes in Julia Child’s classic cookbook and write about it every day on her blog. The incomparable Meryl Streep plays Julia Child and a quite effective Amy Adams does the Powell role.
The movie took me back to my early days in Cambridge when public TV was in its infancy and everything was in black and white. Julia Child’s show, “the French Chef,” was of course the big hit on the Boston area public TV station but there was also an exercise show that drew a large audience hosted by Maggie Lettvin called “Maggie and the Beautiful Machine.”
Maggie Lettvin was the wife of a brilliant MIT scientist named Jerome Lettvin, or Jerry as he was widely known. Maggie was tall, slender, with a beautiful body which she put to good use in her public television show. Jerry was a large, fat, rumpled mess of a man who looked like a huge heap of clothes waiting to go in the washing machine. I was sitting in Tulla’s coffeehouse one evening having a heated philosophical discussion with a friend when Jerry, who was sitting at the next table, interrupted and joined the debate. He was that kind of man. At some point – I cannot remember when – I went to a party (a quite rare event for me) and in the middle of the evening Maggie and Jerry walked in looking like a Cambridge/MIT version of Beauty and the Beast.
In the movie, Julia’s husband Paul is played by the always excellent Stanley Tucci who of course appeared much later once again with Streep in The Devil wore Prada.