|Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment
A group of very giddy foodies gathered Thursday in New York to get a first glimpse of the film -- which opens Aug. 7, 2009 -- and chat with the film's director, Nora Ephron, about how she recreated the dishes that made America's French Chef famous.
"This is just a celebration of food, which is a thing that changes both of these women's lives," Ephron says. "It's about joy -- and the joy of food, and the joy of cooking."
Some of the dishes in the film and exclusive photos after the jump.
"One of the things I said at the beginning to the actors was that everybody had to eat in the scenes," Ephron says.
Heirloom tomato bruschetta, sole meuniere, chocolate cake, French onion soup and beef bourguignon are among the dishes that are brought to decadent light in the film. And it's no accident they look so good.
"I just wanted it to be that thing that we all have where we all go: 'Oh, I want to eat that!' The bruschetta in the movie, it's like, it's like it should have its own Web site, it's so beautiful," she says. "So we wanted the food to look good. We didn't want it to look as if you couldn't make it yourself. We didn't want it to look styled. We didn't want it to look as if a home cook would never have done it."
But it's the recreation of Julia Child's first taste of France -- sole meuniere deboned tableside -- that Ephron really loved.
"When I saw the dailies from that and the light that [director of photography] Stephen Goldblatt had put on that bone, I just thought I was gonna call up Martin Scorsese and say 'Move over, you have never shot a bone of a fish that looks anything this good.'"
It took the help of food stylist Susan Spungen to achieve such food porn perfection. The Martha Stewart veteran showed off one secret tool she uses when on set -- an electric paint stripper -- used to heat cheese to gooey goodness at the last minute.
"I mean there are small tricks that we use, but really, it's just real food and it's just kind of manipulating and controlling it so it will behave for you."
For a French onion soup, she substituted the stringier mozzarella to achieve pull that would go from the bowl to the actor's lip.
A March shoot meant Spungen had to scour a favorite farmers market stand and Eli's to create a character that truly is drool-inducing.
"I hope that people will cook a little bit more after they see this movie," Ephron says, adding "it's really just about how much fun it is to have food play a huge role in your life."