Julia's grease

Food: Not everything from the Cambridge kitchen is headed for the Smithsonian.

January 28, 2002

WHEN AMERICA'S favorite cooking teacher decided to scale down, move to Southern California and close one of the country's best-known kitchens, the Smithsonian Institution was delighted to pack up the contents and add them to its collection. Beginning next month, visitors to the National Museum of American History on the Mall in Washington, D.C., can watch museum staff and trained volunteers unpack Julia Child's kitchen.

Every egg cup and refrigerator magnet, each skewer and gratin pan, and even chopsticks still in their paper wrappers will be examined and entered into the museum's database.

But, alas, one crucial element of any kitchen will be missing - grease. The lingering sheen on a well-seasoned pan, the long-solidified coating in the corners of the baking pans were carefully and firmly scrubbed away.

Surely we're not alone in finding irony in the fact that the woman whose cheerful warbling of the phrase "rich, creamery butter" has earned a treasured niche in our collective memory can send her takeout chopsticks to the national attic, but not her grease.

A fat-frightened nation could use a dash of Julia's flavorful grease, as well as a big helping of her enjoyment of food. For the record, here's her recipe for healthy eating - one that seems to have stood her in good stead as, at 89, she embarks on writing yet another book:

"Small helpings, no seconds, a little bit of everything, no snacking. And have a good time - that's important."

Bon appetit!

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