Julia Child’s Cambridge, Mass., kitchen appears only briefly in "Julie & Julia." Viewers glimpse Julia’s husband, Paul, played by Stanley Tucci, readying pots and pans for a wall-mounted pegboard, and Meryl Streep, as a flawless Julia, tends to a pot on the commercial Garland range. The kitchen is small but organized—a true cook’s kitchen.
Julia lived in Cambridge for 40 years and she had an implement for every culinary application, and through her books and television shows she introduced America to new tools, including the whisk and the French rolling pin (that's the kind with no handles).
When Julia moved to California in 2001, she donated her entire kitchen to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., where it stands today. Piece-by-piece her kitchen is a model of functionality. If you’re interested in recreating Julia’s kitchen in your home, we’ve assembled some of the must-haves for anyone looking to invoke America’s beloved chef.
Butcher Block tables and cutting boards require some maintenance but there is no better cutting or work surface. Though Julia brought her heavy maple block from France, Illinois-based John Boos & Co. (known familiarly as “Boos blocks”) has produced beautiful butcher-block cutting boards and counter tops from maple, cherry and walnut for the last century.
Julia insisted that every cook own a chef, paring and bread knife. In "Julie & Julia," she gleefully tore through a mountain of onions with a chef’s knife, bringing her husband to tears. Knives vary tremendously by price, style and function. But, one thing is certain: a good, sturdy and comfortable chef’s knife is indispensable, perfect for chopping herbs, slicing vegetables and fruits and breaking down shellfish and small cuts of meat.
Twelve quarts is best, roomy enough for corn and lobsters (like those a screeching Julie Powell barely managed to plunge into the pot in "Julie & Julia") and big batches of chili, marinara and homemade stock. (Check out this recent article on one-pot wonders.)
Julia adored the enameled sauce pan she purchased in Paris so much, she used it for almost 50 years. Sauce pans are perfect for re-heating and making rice, oatmeal, sauces and small batches of pasta.
A salad spinner will ensure that you never again endure watered-down vinaigrette or wilted salad greens. Of course Julia had one. At $30, Oxo’s Good Grips salad spinner is a worthy investment—the best on the market.
In "Julia & Julia," Julie Powell serves a creamy hollandaise with steamed artichokes atop poached eggs. Julia offered blender recipes for mayonnaise and hollandaise in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Julia said her blender hollandaise recipe is so easy an 8-year-old could make it.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
Julia’s KitchenAid was cobalt blue. These mixers can do most anything—from whipping cream and egg whites, to mixing cookie, pizza and bread dough. They are invincible and come in a variety of attractive colors, including metallics.
Perhaps not a general necessity, whisks are indispensable for blending ingredients to smooth consistencies, emulsifying and aerating cream and egg whites. Julia used a whisk and copper bowl to make an omelet on the pilot of "The French Chef" and in "Julie & Julia," she whipped egg whites to fluffy peaks in a flash.
French Rolling Pin
Julia dismissed American-style rolling pins in favor of French pins, which are heavy and longer, made from one solid wooden cylinder. She had six. They make an easy job of rolling out dough and crusts—like the one Julie Powell wrapped around a whole, boned duck for her last meal from "Mastering the Art." (Love pizza? MainStreet shows you how to do it DIY style.)
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