Food writer Julie Powell, who became an internet darling after blogging for a year about making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the art of French cooking, leading to a book deal and film adaptation, has died. She was 49.
Powell died of cardiac arrest on October 26 at her home in upstate New York, the New York Times reported. Her death was confirmed by Judy Clain, Powell’s editor who is also the editor-in-chief of Little, Brown.
“She was a brilliant writer and a courageous, original person, and she will not be forgotten,” Clain said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Julia, either personally or through the deep relationships she forged with the readers of her memoirs.”
Powell’s 2005 book, Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 small kitchenbecame a hit movie Juliet and Julietdirected by Nora Ephron, with Amy Adams portraying the author in the film, while Meryl Streep played Child.
Her sophomore and final effort — titled Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Flesh and Obsession — was a bit distracting in its honesty. Powell revealed that she had an affair, the pain of loving two men at once, her penchant for sadomasochism, and even wrote about self-punishing sex with a stranger.
“People coming from the movie Juliet and Juliet and pickup Splitting they’re going to have some emotional wounds,” she told The Associated Press in 2009. “I don’t believe it’s going to be a Nora Ephron movie.
Powell began her affair in 2004 while she was finishing her first book – at a time, she writes, when she was “starry-eyed and vaguely dissatisfied and had too much time for me”.
In 2006, she apprenticed in a butcher shop two hours north of New York, which offered an escape from her crumbling marriage and a place to explore her childhood curiosity about butchers.
“The way they held the knife in their hand was like an extension of them,” Powell said. “I’m a very clumsy person. I don’t do sports. That kind of physical skill is really foreign to me and I really envy him.”
The book explores the connection between butchering and her own tortured romantic life. At one point, while cutting through the connective tissue on a pig’s leg, she writes, “It’s sad but also a relief to know that two things so tightly bound together can separate with so little violence, leaving smooth surfaces instead of bloody fragments. .”
Her book tapped into the growing interest in traditional butchery, and her experience of cutting meat actually led to her eating less of it. She was a supporter of humanely raised and slaughtered animals.
“People want to get their hands dirty. People want to be involved in the process. People want to know where their food comes from,” Powell said. “People don’t want secrets anymore.”
She is survived by her husband Eric.
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