Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.
I swear I’m not one to gush over things like autographs and celebrities. I don’t (usually) care about where so-and-so’s house is, or that whatshisname once made sandwiches at this particular deli before making it big. Hard to believe, I know, considering my last post. So when we took a detour to the Smithsonian on our way back north last week, I didn’t think much of making a quick stop at Julia Child’s Kitchen. I liked Julie & Julia; I’d spent my childhood watching quirky Julia show us the ways of a French kitchen; but still, a quick in-and-out at the exhibit before lunch didn’t phase me.
So when we got there I took my time. Before even looking at the kitchen I checked out the separate display of pots and trinkets her husband Paul had hung on the wall for her. Sweet, I thought, then moved on. I wandered to the display glass that housed the actual kitchen. Cute cabinets, I thought. This room is bigger than some Manhattan apartments I’ve lived in.
Then the details started coming into focus, and that’s when I saw it: her KitchenAid mixer. Something in me fluttered. Turns out, I have the same mixer she did (fine, a newer model). Yes, I, a nobody cook in my microscopic Brooklyn kitchen, have been using the (almost) same mixer Julia did. But who cares, right? So many people have a KitchenAid Pro 600, and frankly, that’s not even the model she used (hers was an earlier version of the bowl-lift model). Still, it did something to me.
The mixer started it, then more details unfolded and my spiral to giddiness ensued. The giant cutting boards, the knife magnet, even the silly red dishtowel hanging from the stove door made me swoon. Every little thing brought me closer until I realized my cheek was pressed against the display glass. I was drooling and oohing. Each similarity to our own kitchen made my once-ambivalent heart jump. And everything I didn’t share with her, I wanted to start doing tomorrow (pots hanging on doors, pictures hanging on kitchen cabinets, everything hanging from everywhere).
Maybe we’re doing it right after all, I thought. The utensils hanging from her stove’s hood. We do that! The orange Le Creuset pot. Check. The orange tea kettle. There was even something about her very simple coffee maker that gave me pause. This ordinary lady-turned-culinary-legend and I had so much in common. We even seemed to share a thing for the color orange. Orange-lovers understand that this means something.
So no, I didn’t go home to start a full-fledged Julia obsession, cooking everything out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and wearing pearls. I may give her a visit on Netflix this weekend, but otherwise, she’s just left me with a cozy, excited feeling about kitchens to come. I make the best of my six-by-ten kitchen now, but one day, in a beautiful far away land, in a house on a hill somewhere, I will build my own culinary haven. Yes, it will be bigger than some Manhattan apartments I’ve lived in. Yes, I will hang pictures on the kitchen cabinets. And it will absolutely have some orange things here and there.