Friday, December 03, 2010

Julia's kitchen.

So we went to DC on Thanksgiving, and we took a tour at the Air and Space Museum, and saw the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art but this was my favorite thing.

We went to the American History Museum at the end of the day that day. I haven't been there since I was a teenager, but I don't remember it being such an oppressive place. The whole building feels like it should be filled with IRS pod-people pecking at computers, or guys in uniforms plotting a nuclear strike. The National Gallery is so lovely, and at the Air and Space Museum you walk right into a two-story gallery full of planes and rockets and space capsules...and at the American History museum, all there is to look at is stuff with boring captions in glass cases in dark tiny rooms.

Thank goodness they've hung onto the Julia Child exhibit, because it was the one of the few things I saw there that exuded any warmth, humanity or real historical interest.

I wasn't even especially interested in seeing Julia Child's kitchen, because it seemed like kind of a cliched thing to pay homage to her after Amy Adams did it so sappily in "Julie and Julia." But as with most things Julia, it just welcomes you right in and makes you smile.

They have a TV set up that plays an endless loop of Julia's cooking segments, from the 1960s through the 1990s, and it was surrounded by an appreciative crowd most of the time we were there.

It was oddly fascinating to peek at her kitchen and see what kinds of utensils she used, what kinds of magnets were on her fridge, what cookbooks were on her shelves. It's a very welcoming-looking kitchen; you can almost see all the people who must have cooked and eaten there over the years, moving around inside.

I don't really remember ever seeing Julia Child on TV--in my memory she was mostly just "that lady who talks funny"--but four or five years ago I read her book My Life in France and she became one of my heroes, which isn't a word I throw around lightly. She got excited about life and what it had to offer, and she was always eager to learn. I love that attitude.