Monday, August 16, 2010

Intrepid Women: Julia Child's Kitchen

Monday, August 16, 2010
Loretta reports:

Celebrity chefs are nothing new.  The Regency era had Marie-Antoine Carême, who cooked for emperors and kings.  But he worked in vast palace kitchens, with an army of helpers, preparing extravagant meals for hundreds of people at a time.

Julia Child worked, so far as we could see, in her own kitchen, and in the era before the Food Channel and 24/7 shows featuring celebrity chefs and wannabe celebrity chefs, she brought to American viewers her own unforgettable way with cooking.  While perhaps not as glamorous as Carême’s, her story is at least as exciting.  Maybe working for the OSS during WWII gave her the wherewithal to take on France’s male cooking establishment, or maybe she was just born that way.  But I figure it took some nerve for a woman—and an American—to try to succeed at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in the 1940s.  I guess it helps to be six foot two, towering over all those Frenchmen who are certain you Don’t Belong Here and probably wish you would go away.  But one must have guts, too, (those knives are very big and very sharp) and a certain strength of character and an optimistic spirit.  Whatever it took, she got her diploma, and went on to write a cookbook still considered a classic, and to host her famous and much-loved cooking show. 

The movie Julie and Julia, wherein Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci shone as Julia and Paul Child, reminded me what a delight she was.  So, when I found myself in Washington, D.C., some weeks ago, I went straight to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, to see Julia Child’s Kitchen.  This wasn’t the only item of interest there, but it was Number One on my list.

Here's the diploma and one view of the kitchen.  I'll put up additional photos at my other blog.

6 comments:

nightsmusic said...

I loved her show. I can't say I learned the art of French cooking, but I learned that I could cook anything I did set my mind to. I just figured if she could do it (and if I recall, she was the only woman with a show at the time) then so could I. :o)

An amazing lady.

Bearded Lady said...

Now that is a kitchen where great things can happen...or at least makes you want to open a bottle of wine. thanks for the pics.

Anonymous said...

Excellent to see a tribute in DC to a smart, hard-working woman AND her cooking instead of the usual men & war. You go, Julia! You were one great lady!

Susan said...

She was one fabulous person & so was Paul Child. Thanks for highlighting her here. Many of us have done her birthday posts for some years so I skipped it this year. But always always remember her. I'm fortunate to live very close to the exhibit. Plus, since she & Paul loved cats so much, my cat is named for her, too.

ciao!

Paul said...

Do you have a picture of Julia Child's spice collection. I am interested in how she organized and the logic underlying that organization

LorettaChase said...

Paul, I assume the spices were kept behind cabinet doors, since the flavors fade when exposed to heat and sunlight. You could try writing to the Smithsonian—if the spices were there when they removed the kitchen, someone might have made notes about them.

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