Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian

Today being Julia Child’s 100th birthday, I was doing some idle Child online research, and came across the delightful site, What’s Cooking? Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, which describes how the Smithsonian acquired the kitchen from Ms. Child, along with audio clips of Child telling stories about her kitchen and diary entries recorded by the team who packed and moved the kitchen to Washington, D.C.

The site also includes a link to  Bon Appetit! Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, the companion site for the exhibit itself, where you can explore a panoramic view of the kitchen as installed at the Smithsonian (it requires Flash to play), as well as images and commentary about a host of items Child kept in her kitchen (including her copy of The Joy of Cooking, which the site notes was “the first cookbook she acquired after her marriage and the one she most used, after her own.”

It’s a joy to see these things, and to remember Mrs. Child. I’ve lived in two places she once called home (Santa Barbara, CA and Cambridge, MA) and always hoped to catch a glimpse of her at the markets she was said to frequent… and I actually did see her one day in Cambridge some years ago, as she wheeled a shopping cart across the road from the Broadway Market to the parking lot (in fact, I stopped my car to let her cross, not in a crosswalk — a risky thing in Cambridge!).

Since I was raised in a house where the kitchen was the focal family point, and which was where we really lived, Mrs. Child’s stories about her kitchen are very resonant for me. Her cookbooks have stood me in very good stead, too, especially Mastering the Art of French Cooking (oh! the Potage Parmentier!) and The Way to Cook (which taught me how to boil an egg properly and how to make incredible quiche, among many other things).

And then… I remembered that the Schlesinger Library has quite a bit of material from and about Child, and did a quick look, and found this page, A Julia-worthy Feast, highlighting collections Child gave to the Schlesinger (papers, audiotapes, and videotapes) as well as the upcoming “Siting Julia: a Julia Child Centenary Symposium,” to be held Friday, September 21, 2012, sponsored by the Schlesinger Library and held at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study here in Cambridge. (Although the symposium is free and open to the public, it requires registration and there is already a wait-list.) But the site itself is full of Child-related treasures. Of course, Mrs. Child herself was a great treasure for us all.

More as it happens, from a humble fan of Mrs. Child’s,




Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at claguard@fas.harvard.edu, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.