julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

No Escaping Destiny

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I had planned a wonderful beef stew for last night’s dinner. I bought all of the ingredients over the weekend, and I had the page bookmarked in MtAoFC. But when I got home with a list of things to do (I have friends from college coming to visit this weekend…so excited!! We’ve had a guest room for over four years now and finally someone’s going to put it to good use!), I decided that Julia would have to wait this time. And do you know something? Despite all the wonderful and impressive French meals I’ve cooked over the past 48 days, last night was the most productive I’ve been in over a month.

I did three loads of laundry, including guest bedding and towels. I cleaned out my closet, which had not only become a catch-all for any random needs-a-home item, but had gotten so out of control that even my husband finally led me by the hand to face the growing mound of junk on the closet floor and said to me, “Honey, I’m messy…but even I don’t know what’s going on here.” I even reorganized our kitchen pantry and cleaned out the refrigerator. It was the best use of three hours I’ve spent in a long time, and it felt great. Even as I sat at the dining room table, eating a bowl of cereal for dinner and flipping through a pile of catalogs that had been building up in my neglected mailbox, I knew I had made the right decision in putting Julia on the back burner (so to speak). And then I turned the page of my Smithsonian Catalog and saw this:

Smithsonian Catalog - Fall 2010

Yes, friends. Believe it or not, it’s a two-page spread of merchandise inspired by the French Chef herself, Julia Child. The brief introduction explained that, as owners of her donated Massachusetts kitchen, the Smithsonian had developed a line of kitchen gifts “inspired by kitchen accessories and serveware in the museum’s home life collection.” Here’s what’s included: 

A. Mastering the Art of French Cooking Boxed Set
Includes Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two; hardcover books with slipcase. This of course is a much nicer set than my paperback copy, and the idea of making even MORE recipes kind of makes my eye start to twitch – but I’m sure it would be a nice addition to a cookbook enthusiast’s collection. 

Dessert dishes

B. Cupcake Platter and Dessert Plates
Okay, these are pretty darn cute. These curved glass plates feature Parisian patisserie signs and would be a darling way to present some of Julia’s own French desserts or just to put on display. The platter is 16″x12″ and the set of four square plates are 6″x6″. I could certainly picture a set of ladyfingers on one of these little dishes. (Of course, not the way I make ladyfingers, but you get the idea.) 

 C. Hot Seat Swivel Stool
Now THIS is creative. I have absolutely no use for something like this, mind you, but it’s clever nonetheless. This swivel bar stool is an upside-down professional 10-quart brazier pot. I would imagine there might be some logistical issues with the placement of those handles, not to mention the fact that I think I’d rather just have the pot! But hey, I like fun in the kitchen, and this is definitely that. 

D. Ceramic Canisters
This set of three sure-lock canisters are a classy way to store your dry foods. Made to look like rustic stoneware and labeled with metal nameplates, the set features Cookies, Flour and Sugar. If you had some extra counter space and used these three items frequently, this would be a really nice way to store/present them. I, however, am not so classy and just cram the opened bags in my pantry. Don’t be like me. Be classy. 

E. Glass Fruit Jewelry
These are so stinkin’ cute I can hardly stand it. Bohemian glass beads in the shape of little strawberries, bananas, apples, pears and grapes are wire-wrapped and interspersed with glass teardrops in a bracelet, necklace and earrings (each sold separately). While I don’t imagine Julia Child would ever have worn anything like this, I have to give it two thumbs up in the “adorable” category. 

Ruffled Apron

F. Ruffled Aprons
Sold in adult and child sizes, these black and white aprons are sweet. Who says you can’t look sweet while slaving away over a hot stove? Retro-chic in design, they’re  made of three coordinating fabrics with neck and waist ties and two front pockets. But the best detail? The feminine pleated ruffle along the hem. I can guarantee Julia wouldn’t have worn this, for the same reason I couldn’t…the aprons are so cute, I’d need an apron to protect the apron! 

 It was fun to look at these Julia-inspired items, even if I was trying to take a night off from my culinary mentor. Practical or not, all of these “kitchen gifts” got high marks from me for “Cute Factor”. My favorite things were the dessert plates and the glass fruit jewelry. What were your favorites? Window shopping aside, I can’t get over the fact that Julia Child has been gone for six years and yet she still impacts our society today. It’s been nine years since she donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian Museum, and here she is, featured in the Fall 2010 issue of the Smithsonian Catalog. While I’m sure the recent Julie & Julia movie has given her popularity a new boost, the fact remains that it was her own legacy that inspired the story from which the movie came in the first place. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

I heart Julia Child. 

Even on my night off.   


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