The kitchen of cookbook author Julia Child (1912-2004) is on exhibit at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
Julia Child led a very interesting life. Not only did she star in her own cooking show and write several cookbooks, but she also volunteered for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to today’s CIA, during World War II. She then married an OSS officer who was stationed in France after the war.
While living in France with her husband, she became an expert in French cooking, which she then introduced to the US through her cookbooks and television show. The National Museum of American History has preserved her kitchen exactly as it appeared on television and also features more information about her show and the food she made. Read more about Julia Child at biography.com.
“I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as “Oh, I don’t know how to cook…,” or “Poor little me…,” or “This may taste awful…,” it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, “Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!” Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed — eh bien, tant pis! Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile — and learn from her mistakes.” — Julia Child, My Life in France
The National Museum of American History is the fourth stop on our District of Columbia Author Adventures Trail.