Friday, January 25, 2013
The Soul of Small Kitchens
I live in an apartment. My kitchen is a galley, and I must live with the cabinets and wall colors dealt me. It is not the American Dream Kitchen. I doubt anyone but the homeless would envy me this cramped space, but I have learned to love it. Age has taught me that larger is more confining than smaller, for there is more cleaning, more tidying, more walking about through empty space looking for a pot holder or an omelet pan. I prefer cosy and close to daunting and outsized.
A small kitchen must be kept neat. It encourages discipline, though some disorder can be charming if it is imbued with the personality of the owner. Foolish though it may be, I have an island in my small space. Several times I have removed it, but it always comes back. I need it too much. Where else would I chop onions or mix muffin batter? I care not what others think of it. This is my kitchen, and it will please me.
I think a huge kitchen is like a designer jacket with sleeves too long and shoulders too wide. I would rattle around in it. And unlike a jacket, a too large kitchen cannot be altered.
I saw an article yesterday on TheKitchn website about an Italian archeologist living in Parma. She is an everyday cook with a kitchen comprehensible only to herself. She is there in the objects she has collected in travels. She is there in the piles of magazines, and pots, and under a cupboard dressed up with a little skirt. The article contrasts her kitchen with another Parma kitchen so sparse that one might conclude that the owners are either Shakers or compulsive Minimalists. Of the two I prefer the former, where the soul of the owner is in every corner.
I also would mention the "Little Paris Kitchen" of English cook Rachel Khoo, who looks like Amelie, and who once ran a miniscule restaurant in her apartment. She has a half hour cooking show, which is excellent. It is so good it feels out of place on "The Cooking Channel".
Miss Khoo cooks under conditions most Americans over a certain income would not put up with. I am not certain I would put up with them, for when she wants to use her blender she has to crawl under a table and plug it in to the one outlet in her apartment. I think to be young in Paris might make this endurable.
Miss Khoo, with her quirky fashions, makes it charming.
There can be loveliness in having limits-