Monday, December 03, 2007


For a very brief moment I indulged myself in a thought as to the size of my ‘new’ kitchen. An L-shaped corner of a small dinning/living room it is very compact, big enough to squeeze in a dishwasher but too small to fit to a wider oven. While I spent a moment coveting consumerism in all its over-applianced glory, I spared a thought for my very first out of home kitchen.

It was a cupboard really, about the size of a walk in pantry. Instead it contained a single sink on a short bench and an upright stove, no doubt leaking a little gas. The adjoining living room housed a small fridge, toaster oven and a wooden table that doubled as a food prep area. I am not exaggerating in any way when I say the whole house was condemned shortly after I moved out. Probably not because of the kitchen, nor the lack of heating or the bathroom window that couldn’t close and let in a wind straight from the Antarctic. Likely because it abutted a hillside, like many Wellington homes, not properly braced and likely to cave in at any time. The mould growing through the back rooms probably didn’t help either. Nor the drunken Irish wharfie who lived downstairs and risked setting the place alight on one of his daily benders.

After living in the same home for 18 years, I set off into the world and have resided in 13 houses since. London was the antithesis of the cupboard kitchen. It was closer to half the entire size of my current abode. The kitchen table could easily seat a dozen; so large it was actually constructed in the room. There was a double oven and six-burner stovetop. Huge jars full of every grain and bean under the sun adorned the shelves. A boyfriend dubbed the sprawling Stoke Newington residence as a house of food worshippers. That kitchen truly was the heart of the home. The living room was only used occasionally to watch the tiny TV and dance to “Top of the Pops”.

But from the sublime to the ridiculous, a physical kitchen has little impact on the food you make in it. Sure the mouse infested cupboard kitchen would not have inspired me to make my own pasta (a lack of surfaces to roll out the dough) but nor does the modest expanse of granite in my current home. If I really wanted to make it, I would – wherever I was.

Some of the best meals I have made have been over a campfire. Food prepared on a half an ordinary sized chopping board with the feeblest of knives. One pot (never big enough) and a fry pan, not even a Dutch oven, Don’t blame the tools - it is all about inspiration.

So any laziness on my part with my current culinary creations will not be cured with the latest gadget, more bench space or industrial gas burners (well maybe with the last one). I’m on the verge of considering buying a real BBQ (note to Father Christmas) and am sure, Total Fire Ban Days aside, will inspire a short burst of grilling and fish or vego delights. This is a short time after the US bloggers have made mention of giving thanks, sometimes we are slower to do such things in the Southern Hemisphere, but my belated gratitude is for access to such plentiful food, cooked on whatever means at hand. Sometimes, less is indeed more.

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Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

1. We've all seen film of women in different cultures who seem to produce hot fresh food while sitting next to an open fire or a hot stone - I am always overcome with admiration of them ...
and 2. often stunned by the variety of menu selections which can come out of tiny compact kitchens of some laneway cafes.

happy cooking!

9:19 pm  

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