The latter is the subject of a new movie coming out Friday.
For the past few weeks, Food, Inc. has been showing moviegoers a sobering look at the world of industrial farming and is a must for anyone who's ever eaten a chicken or steak.
Friday, a more uplifting story hits the screen, this one a tale of two women who both try to re-discover themselves through food and cooking. One dish in particular changed Julia Child's trajectory, and it just so happens to be on the menu at one Chicago restaurant.
"I really wanted to learn to cook. I could just cook my way through Julia Child's cookbook. I could blog about that," Amy Adam's character said in the new movie Julie & Julia.
So begins the two-sided story of Julie & Julia. It is about a young woman living in New York, Julie Powell, who, in a bid to do something meaningful by her 30th birthday, attempts to make all 500-plus recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, blogging along the way.
Her struggles are paralleled by the memoirs of Julia Child - played with scary accuracy by Meryl Streep. One of Child's favorite dishes, which is featured in the film, was sole meuniere.
Powell remembers tackling it for her blog project.
"I was terrified because you know, I'm reading this thing about lifting the skeleton out from the fillets and I'm thinking there is no way I'm going to be able to do this. No way! And it worked perfectly. And I was so, I was like Eric, my husband is watching me. And I pulled that thing out and it came off in one piece and it was one of the most triumphant moments of my life to date," Powell said.
The classic dish is still prepared with precision at the legendary Cape Cod Room, inside the Drake Hotel.
"The fish itself is from a specific region in the world, the Dover coast of England. And it's available year round. We get it fresh directly flown in. But, to get that fish specifically, we are one of the only places in Chicago that serves it all the time," Joshua Young, a chef at The Drake Hotel, said.
After pan-searing and roasting, Young simply adds butter, parsley and lemons.
"Pan-roast it. Lightly flour it. A little bit of butter and oil. Then the meuniere sauce which is just butter, lemon juice, and parsley. You brown the butter, get a little nutty flavor. It is very simple. It is 3 ingredients, but it works perfectly," Young said.
Just as Child instructs, the sole is deboned tableside, plated with the brown butter sauce.
"She changed everything. Before her it was frozen food and can openers and marshmallows," Powell said.
"Don't knock marshmallows," Powell's husband replied.
Streep is simply amazing in the film. I know this, because I met Julia several times in her 80s. Her humor and her zest for life were legendary, as was that voice.
Powell says her project, which became a book and now a movie, brought her closer to Child, but, alas, they never met.
"I go back and forth. I think I'm kind of fine with it because Julia is one of those people that gets into your head. And I have my Julia Child, who is mine and she is the one that thinks and understands and thinks it was great," Powell said.
Julie & Julia opens August 7th
Cape Cod Room
140 E. Walton
Recipe by Julia Child
5 parts Noilly Prat (Noy Prat)
1 part gin
Put ice in a wine glass. Fill with Noilly Prat and top with gin. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
"It's a nice, refreshing drink. I usually have two," Julia Child said.