Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sunday at the Smithsonian

I returned earlier this week from my first visit to Washington, D.C. I went east for a family wedding that was held in Virginia. On the Sunday following the wedding I spend part of the day in D.C. with my daughter Annie and her family. It was a lovely partly sunny early autumn day, the sort of day that was the perfect introduction to my nation's capitol.

This lovely old castle-y looking building is part of the Smithsonian Institutions. It is the iconic image that is engraved on most of the literature you see pertaining to the Smithsonian. I knew that before I went to D.C. but it surprised me all the same when I saw it 'for real.' Funny how that happens.

This is one of the moon gates in a garden that is modeled after the Palace of Heaven in China. (I am going to be going to China in the spring and will get to see the original!)
We found this moth (or butterfly?) in the moon gate garden. I have never seen one like it and I've no idea what sort of moth/butterfly it might be. If you know, Dear Reader, please enlighten me by leaving a comment. I'd love to be able to put a name to this lovely.
12/2/2010: My dear friend George has just solved the mystery for me. The butterfly, not a moth, above is a common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).
Thank you, George!
The Capital.
The Washington Monument.

This is my daughter and her family in a classic tourist snapshot.

This plump little birdie was sitting right outside of the Museum of Natural History.

We had decided that since we had such a limited amount of time to visit the Smithsonian (19 separate museums make up the Smithsonian Institute, all free!), we would concentrate on the Museum of American History. This museum houses something I have wanted to see for some time, something that thrilled me to be able to see with my own eyes....Julia Child's kitchen!
There, on the back wall, where all the pots and pans are hung so neatly, if you look carefully you'll see the outline of the object on the pegboard. Paul Child did this when he and Julia arranged their kitchen. I read about this in Julia's biography and thought it very interesting. It appeals to my OCD, I think. I myself have never been quite so organized, but I do admire it in other's .

I was thrilled to see Julia's diploma from Le Cordon Bleu. Have your read how difficult it was for Julia to pry this very document from the woman who ran the school's hands? I enjoyed reading the story of the diploma in Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch. Julia Child is a hero of mine. I first came across her in the early 1960s and like the Julie in Julie and Julia, I have made many (many!) of the recipes in her cookbooks. In many ways, Julia taught me to cook by explaining techniques and methods so clearly in all her recipes and she certainly taught me to cook with passion.

On the counter just outside the edge of the above photo is Julia's rather sophisticated telephone, circa the 1970s I should think. While I was viewing the kitchen, there was a couple also looking into the display. The husband remarked to the wife that had you been on Julia's speed dial, you'd have known that you'd arrived. Oh, how I yearned to have been on her speed dial when he made that comment! Wouldn't that have been something?

Above is a photo of a photo of Julia Child in her kitchen in France. I have always loved this photo of her.
Being able to visit the kitchen of Julia Child was very special to me. It was one of those moments we sometimes are gifted with. I am happy to say that my daughter, Annie, felt the same way. It was even more special to me to be able to share the experience with her.
Ian, my two-year-old grandson, however, found the cranes and construction machinery we saw outside the Museum of American History to be much more his cup of tea.

Annie's daughter Alex, 5, was enthralled with the ruby slippers from the movie The Wizard of Oz. It was pretty cool to see those famous slippers, but they didn't hold a candle to Julia's kitchen to me.
Seeing Julia's kitchen with my own eyes was something, something special.


Meri said...

Didn't Meryl make a great Julia? And Stanley Tucci. . . well, Stanley/Paul was just a love. And I'm so excited for you to go to China.

Grove Street Journal said...

Looks as though you all had a fabulous time in DC! I am sorry our paths didn't cross while we were all there! Love you.