Julie and Julia Author Dead at 49

The writer and food blogger who helped us rediscover Julia Child has died. Julie Powell, the author of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, was just 49.

Powell died at home in Olivebridge, in upstate New York. Her husband has said that the cause of her death was cardiac arrest. A final Tweet, in the context of hindsight, is heartbreaking. “So I woke up with something that’s literally Black Hairy Tongue,” Powell tweeted on October 25th, the day before she died. “People, including my doctor, seem to think it’s no big deal, and will go away soon, but it certainly is gross.”

Back in the early aughts, Powell gave herself a steep challenge: to try and cook every single recipe in Julia Child’s seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking, first published in 1961. She was not yet 30 and lived in a small and ill-equipped apartment in Long Island City.

Powell’s sharp, smart and sometimes crude voice hit a nerve with the food blog wave that was just beginning to rise. Readers of her blog loved what she was saying. Before long, readers of her book would, too. From the New York Times:

Little, Brown & Company turned the blog into a book, “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.” Although some critics wrote that it lacked literary heft, it went on to sell more than a million copies, mostly under the title given to the paperback: “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.”

Sales spiked after the popular 2009 movie “Julie & Julia,” Nora Ephron’s last work as a writer and director, which starred Ms. Streep as Mrs. Child; Stanley Tucci as her husband, Paul; and Amy Adams as Ms. Powell.

The success of the film pushed Julia Child’s  Mastering the Art of French Cooking onto the bestseller list for the very first time.

The New York Times’ lengthy and affectionate good-bye to Powell is here. ◊

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