If you’ve never visited Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, stop by the next time you’re in Washington, D.C. I think the kitchen reveals more about a person than any other room in the house, and Julia’s is no exception.
The exhibit which recreates the kitchen where she created recipes for so many of her books. It’s relatively small, but carefully organized. Besides a well-used six-burner stove, there was a wall grid with an inventory for wine (including ’66 Chateau Margaux, Nuits St. George ’71 and a ’59 La Rioja Alta); a small dining table, and places for each pot, gadget and utensil, carefully outlined on the wall.
What brings warmth to the exhibit is Child’s lilting voice, coming from a TV monitor that plays various film clips. During my favorite segment, she’s telling the interviewer about her most prized kitchen gadgets, which include a champagne stopper.
To show off how well this one works, Child tells how Barbara Fairchild — then editor of Bon Appetit Magazine — had come for a visit.
“I gave her some of my very best Champagne,” says Child, ever the gracious hostess. She’s referring to an iconic bottle of Dom Perignon, but doesn’t mention the brand by name.
They didn’t finish it, but thanks to Child’s trusty champagne stopper, the Dom still had its fizz three days later. I hope the other interviewer got to help her kill the bottle when the cameras were off.
I only got to interview Julia Child once — for an article on the true origins of the Caesar Salad — but she had a wonderful memory and was very excited to share what she knew with a young writer. I think perhaps that may be her most important legacy.