FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

The Real Thing

Everything in Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian—except for the food and the floor—is authentic. All the tools, equipment, and appliances belonged to Julia Child, and they are arranged exactly as she left them when she turned the kitchen over to the Smithsonian team in 2001. The floor is a paper reproduction, which Museum staff created by scanning a sample of Julia’s original 1960s linoleum.

Kitchen Table and Chairs

Kitchen Table and Chairs

The kitchen table and chairs are from Norway. The Childs shipped them to Cambridge after Paul completed his final overseas posting in Oslo. They preferred to eat at this table and to entertain small groups of friends here rather than in the formal dining room.

Steel pole

Steel pole

The steel pole mounted on the ceiling (seen at the top of this image) was used by the television production crew to attach lighting fixtures above the set during video tapings of Julia’s shows in the 1990s.

Icemaker

Icemaker

The ice maker is marked DO NOT MOVE. When taping television shows in the kitchen, the crew needed plenty of ice to keep the food fresh.

Bookshelf

Bookshelf

The bookshelf contains cookbooks Julia used in the kitchen, as well as a variety of reference books and videotapes.  She kept a television set on a cart that she rolled into the kitchen next to the bookshelf to watch news programs or review tapes of her cooking shows.

“My gleaming batterie de cuisine”

These pots, pans, and other tools used by Julia Child in her kitchen represents her characteristically eclectic style—a mix of French and American, serious and humorous, sacred and profane. Julia acquired most of her copper cookware in France between 1948 and 1980. Much of it came from the old culinary store E. Dehillerin, a Paris institution beloved by chefs and cooks. With their legendary ability to conduct heat evenly, the copper pots, most lined with tin, reflect cooking methods typical for the French food Julia taught America to appreciate.

Amid this French specialization and elegance rest good old American cast-iron pans, an aluminum donut-hole punch, a cast-iron heart-shaped trivet, and a tiny image of San Pasqual, a kitchen saint popular in New Mexico. The “JC” branding iron, a gift from a Western admirer to a fellow meat lover, was hung alongside the French copper for decorative and comic effect.

Julia's cookware on display in the Museum

Julia's cookware on display in the Museum

Gift of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts