For Food Enthusiasts and Feminists, Episode 6 of HBO Max’s “Julia” Is the Staff of Life

published Apr 21, 2022
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Julia season 1
Credit: Courtesy of HBO Max

With only a few episodes left in the series, it’s clear that HBO Max’s Julia is a master class — not in French cooking, like you might expect, but in pursuing your dreams. I never realized what a pioneer Julia Child was and the show does a great job of demonstrating her tenacity and her unwillingness to take “no” for an answer. Once she got a taste of success and realized the influence she could have, there was no stopping her.

Episode 6, entitled “Bread,” may be as surprising to viewers as it is to one of Julia’s cameramen that sweetbreads are not at all what they sound like.”I thought she was doing donuts,” he sighs. “Maybe she’ll turn them into donuts?”

I was kind of hoping that, too, since we do get a graphic look at those sweetbreads that Julia describes as “not sweet nor bread, but they’re divine.” We learn more than we might want to about glands and pancreases, but we also learn about the science of making French bread.

Julia really takes control in this episode, standing her ground in every area of her life even when her opinions are unpopular and cause conflict. Whether she’s fighting for the recipes she wants to share or disappointing her editor, she stays focused on her goal. Although she’s told repeatedly that no one watching will make the sweetbreads she’s set on featuring, she says, “Maybe one person will.” And, to Julia, that would be enough.

If you haven’t seen this episode yet, please be advised that there are spoilers ahead.

In this episode, Julia has to reshoot a show due to a technical issue — even though she was promised a vacation. Taking advantage of the opportunity — and against everyone’s advice — she decides to cook sweetbreads instead of chicken, which she calls “tired territory.”

While she’s working on the new episode, she assigns her husband and editor the task of coming up with a recipe for French bread. When they finally get it (with a My Fair Lady soundtrack delightfully playing in the background), they share the secret to their success: an asbestos tile!! No one gets sick — yet — and Julia negotiates a second season of The French Chef. To be continued …

What I learned from Julia: “I have a feeling they may not be a favorite of many of you, but they are a favorite of mine,” she says when introducing her sweetbreads episode. In other words, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.

The first six episodes of Julia are now available on HBO Max with new episodes airing every Thursday through May 5.