Out and About

A Return to Julia Child’s Kitchen: The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC

I spent the summer of 1995 in Julia Child’s kitchen – in the red bedroom, the dining room, the living room and the garden too.  We were filming the Baking with Julia PBS series and I was there in preparation for writing the book.  For eight weeks, that kitchen was home.  It was where we’d have quick meetings in the morning and often have drinks at night.

Julia’s favorite drink was a reverse martini – more vermouth than gin – and her favorite nibble with drinks was Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.  She’d buy them in the super-size boxes from the Pepperidge Farm discount store.

I was ‘single’ in Cambridge until Friday night, when Michael would drive up from New York to spend the weekend with me.  I remember the first time he met Julia.  He walked through the side door – did anyone ever use the front door? – and stretched out his arm to shake Julia’s hand.  Julia barreled past his arm and gave him a bear hug.  They hugged ever after.

Julia's kitchen with her beloved old Garland range

Julia’s kitchen with her beloved old Garland range


One Friday night, after Lauren Groveman had been on camera, Michael pulled up to find us sitting in Julia’s kitchen eating the foods that Lauren had made: challah and chopped liver.  Just what his mother might have served!

We both had wonderful memories of Julia, of course, and the kitchen, so it was deeply touching to walk into the Smithsonian Museum and see Julia’s kitchen, just as it was in Cambridge, and, as we approached, to hear her voice, as you will the whole time you are there – the highlight reel from years of Julia on television plays off to the side.  (You’ll be glad to know that seeing Julia today is as delightful as it’s always been.)

Julia's kitchen bookshelf

When Julia died, her house was left to Smith College, but the kitchen went to the Smithsonian.  Everything (well, some things went to California – another story – but they’re back), including everything that was in her kitchen drawers, all the gadgets and doodads, just as they were organized – or not – in her home.  And everything was recreated just as it was in Cambridge.  You can tell that no interior designer fiddled with the kitchen – the prominently placed plastic trash bin is the giveaway!

I was so happy to find Baking with Julia on Julia’s kitchen bookshelf.  The cut-out cat that Michael, Joshua and I gave Julia one Christmas still stands on the fridge

Julia's kitchen 1

And, if you look closely – very, very closely – you’ll see the words “Dorie G” on Julia’s speed dial

I'm on speed dial! Next to the last row, last button to the right

I’m on speed dial! Next to the last row, last button to the right

Julia and I used to talk just about every morning.  I miss that.  I really miss her.

Dorie Greenspan

Baking with Julia, DC, Julia Child, Julia's Kitchen, museums, Smithsonian Museum, travel, Washington

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