12.02.2007

kitchen evolution



I haven’t been cooking a lot lately. I have a fridge full of thrilling produce: chedder cauliflower, romanesco, rainbow chard, Japanese sweet potatoes. And I want little to do with it. Last week, after a particularly grueling commute home, I could only find the energy to make a call to Giorgio’s for a mini Hawaiian pizza and then hurriedly steam some broccoli and pour a glass of wine before I sat down. When I finally settled in front of the tv, I made it through most of the broccoli only to realize that in my rush I hadn’t seen the extra protein that I’d steamed along with the broccoli. Maybe it’s the bugs that have turned me off to cooking for the minute.

And it’s probably the fact that I did a lot over Thanksgiving. Brussel Sprouts, mashed potatoes, homemade bread and butter. All this while dancing around a crowded, overburdened antique oven and counter space taken over by excessive collections of kitchen tools.

In the last couple months, I’ve been cooking in my mom’s kitchen a lot. Many of the pictures I’ve shuffled from my camera to my computer are flush with the terra cotta hues of my mom’s cabinets in the background. A lot of the pics have my brother in them as well. Our cooking styles are so different, but end up with damn good results. When I’m in my own kitchen I work quick, with precision and a touch of grace. I try and move as efficiently as possible. Even making a breakfast sandwich this morning involved something of a dance, with each movement up, down or side to side serving a purpose.

I didn’t cook in the kitchen much growing up. But if I ever wanted to, I knew everything would be in working order, stocked with anything and everything I needed. It was a kitchen that worked. Ample counter space. Kick-ass stove. An appliance for every need. The knives you pulled out of the block were carbon-still and awesome. An indoor grill. And there was a perfect time when my culinary adventures synced up with the state of the kitchen nicely. I think it was when I would visit after college. It was a great place to cook.

And now, it’s different. The house isn’t how I remember. Things don’t work like they used to. Utensil collections fight one another for counter space. Groupings of jars or pitchers or fruit bowls crowd the space so it takes a lot of shuffling and set-up and rearranging before you can even get started. The oven is as tricky as an old car you should have dumped long ago, but just can’t bear to see it go. One oven doesn’t work. The other requires a flashlight and a steady hand to gauge the temperature. Burns are common. Baking is a crapshoot.

But I still like it. It’s a good kitchen, if not for the functionality than for the memories. The meals we’ve cooked, the guests that drift there unconsciously like the last cheerios in a bowl. No matter the party, everyone ends up in the kitchen. I won’t say it’s not challenging, it is. It’s sad to see the kitchen in a slow decline. Disorganized, cluttered. It doesn’t work like it once did. But I still see it for the goodness it offers. It’s still a place where we come together, work together, cook together.

I have faith it’ll be what it once was. To get cleaned up and flying right again. It’s all there, in the drawers and the cabinets. By the food processor and the industrial stand mixer and the carbon steel knives. It’ll be the kitchen I remember. In time, it’ll come back.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Has blogging become the new public flogging? Well I have taken you "observations" to heart. OK, so perhaps 72 spatulas is a little over the top. And maybe 15 different whisks is a bit much. I have liberated the prep surfaces, reduces in number all manner of things. I had had to take a hard look and ask myself..."do you really need 4 potato peelers?" Reluctantly I have answered "no" and placed them in the "These are the things for Morgan's new apartment" box, or the Goodwill pile, or simply thrown them out. You would be proud of me. The stove on the other hand.....well that's for another time. xoxoxmomster