A peek into our post-modern kitchen


I am plugging along on House Thinking:  A Room-to-Room Look at How We Live by Winifred Gallagher, and I just finished the chapter about the kitchen in the book.  As in most of the book, the kitchen chapter (entitled “The Kitchen:  A Woman’s Work is Never Done?”) began with an American historical perspective on the room — looking at the kitchen as the hearth of the home in early America, the consideration of the home as a subordinate room during the industrial revolution, the advent of home economics programs at such prestigious universities, like Cornell, to (finally) the re-inclusion of the kitchen into home-living spaces and everyday life, and the “gender-neutral” home kitchen, where both women and men reign.

This chapter spoke to me on a couple of levels.  First of all, since moving into our new house, I understand the importance of a “good” kitchen — Marc and I refused to consider any house that didn’t have eat-in space, multiple counter tops, a place to store our whole warehouse of wedding gifts, and room to move around.  As victims of the “apartment kitchen” in Cambridge, we suffered for 2 years with our kitchen doubling as our entryway/foyer/mail dumping ground/home for coat piles.  We had exactly 14 square inches of cutting board space, and so any sort of complex recipe or ingredients were moved or stored in a bowl in the sink until we could find space.  We had a refrigerator that had a little more capacity than my dorm refrigerator, and an electric stove with ONE regular sized burner, and three wee burners, big enough for a tiny saucepan. And no windows.

In comparison, our new kitchen is grand — large, modern, bright, room for a kitchen table (our apartment kitchen table was in our living room and was the home to everything BUT dinner).  We can store and display our ever expanding appliance collection, and even have a permanent place for our beautiful Crate and Barrel cutting board.  I love it…it’s easy enough to clean, and comfortable enough to hang out in.

But, I don’t.

As fun, functional and entertaining as our kitchen is, I don’t necessarily have that pull to cook.  I don’t think it’s news to anyone that Marc is more of the chef in our family (see evidence below), and that his idea of a quick Sunday night meal involves fresh pasta, rosemary, brown butter sauce and some sort of red wine reduction.  My idea of a quick meal is a tuna melt.

Clearly, I am not going to complain!  I reap the benefits of having a husband who idolizes Alton Brown over Peyton Manning, but somewhere deep inside, I get that nagging feeling that I MUST be missing the boat somewhere on the joys of executing the perfect culinary experience.  Don’t get me wrong — I love looking at cookbooks and I’ve been known to peruse the allrecipes.com from time to time.  I enjoy going to the grocery store, and walking up and down each aisle, thinking of dinner ideas.  But when it comes to baking, chopping, mincing, yanking out the ol’ food processor….I’m lost.  This is where I am lucky to have Marc, for whom cooking, serving, and making sure others are satisfied is all an art form.

Blame it on my feminist influences if you must, but I am happy to stay as far away from the kitchen as I need to…I will happily be the idea-gal, the shopper, the taste tester (and sometimes the dishwasher…), but I’ll leave the chopping to my incredibly capable foodie husband!

3 Responses to “A peek into our post-modern kitchen”

  1. 1 Bella

    Bella…I enjoyed this reflection, thanks for sharing. I hadn’t thought about the evolution of the “status of the American kitchen.” The book sounds intriguing; I’d be interested in other chapters.

    We’ve also got a new kitchen to move into when we return from Mexico! I can’t wait: counter space, more cupboards & storage. As better as it is…if you can imagine (and I know you can)…it’s still a bit of a NYC kitchen.


  2. 2 Marc

    Who is that amazing stud by the cutting board? I mean, he must care about you an awful lot to dedicate that much care and precision into what’s cooked in the house.

    You are no kitchen slouch, however. You sell yourself short, but I don’t know anyone who makes a tastier soup or tuna melt than you!

  3. Marc, it is sooo lame that you are commenting on Elysabeth’s blog.

    Love ya,

    Gabe & Megan

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