Transitions, Ink

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: In the Kitchen

I grew up in the kitchen, sitting at the table, drinking tea and watching my mother work her magic at the avocado green stove. As a feminist, I sometimes worry about the whole “woman in the kitchen” thing, but I realize that in many homes, certainly the one I grew up in, the kitchen was a real locus of power. It really was the heart of the home, the most regular gathering place, the warmest, most comforting place to be. You could take the pulse of the family in the kitchen. We ate all of our meals, many together, in the kitchen. We sat at the table and played cards in the kitchen. I learned how to do macramé at the kitchen table when I was a child in the seventies, turning brown twine into plant hangers (remember those), making my own beads and painting them—all in the kitchen. I baked my own horrible easy-bake oven cakes on the kitchen table while my mother made mouth-watering real ones at the counter. Or I stood on a chair beside her, full of admiration and longing to know the same secrets. In the late afternoons, you could hear the pressure cooker (which was to approached with the utmost caution, if at all) hissing away on the stovetop. And the aroma of sweet baking filled the house every Sunday afternoon. When I was a little older, I sat at that table in the kitchen, leafing through cookbooks, experimenting with recipes, absorbing my mother’s skills and making them my own.

When I was shopping for my first home, I surprised myself by realizing what a huge priority the kitchen was (right up there with closet space) and how definite my ideas about it were. I wanted a spacious kitchen that I could move in easily and with a vast counter that would allow me to say “yes” whenever guests asked if I needed any help in the kitchen. I wanted a dedicated bookcase for my own growing collection of cookbooks, none of which I can think of discarding. And a little desk. And most of all, I wanted a kitchen that was continuous with the rest of the house, not shut off from but open to the social space. And now I have it. No other room lives in a house the way a kitchen does.

See what's going on in other kitchens.


Bug said...

This is great. The warmth between you and your mom really comes out in how you spent so much time watching her cook and emulating her. Hope I get to one day help out in your kitchen! :)

Regina Clare Jane said...

You know, really- the kitchen is the most powerful room in the house- and for the most part, women dominate in the kitchen- that's a good feeling! I know I don't want my hubby anywhere near the stove- that's my territory!
This was a great post!

FatCharlatan said...

Oh, this is lovely. You should show it to your mum.

As I've been getting older, I've been doing more in the kitchen (something I always shunned for some reason). I'm liking it.

I agree with Bug--party at your place! :) I'm a good sous chef.

Tammy said...

My dad did the cooking and shopping :) What wonderful gift your mother gave you. Party...yay!

Your Twin

TI said...

I would LOVE to have you guys here for a kitchen social one day.

Becca said...

How lucky you are to have your "dream kitchen." It sounds heavenly, as do the memories of your childhood kitchen.

Lovely post!

TI said...

I took FC's advice and sent the URL for this to my mother. She writes me such a lovely response that I am posting it too (hope it's okay, Mum):
Loved your kitchen blog. One could write a book about the activities and conversations spent around our kitchen table; the cook(s) busy across the counter but still able to join in the conversation, and pulling up another chair for a newly arrived family member/guest. I had no idea that the kitchen and I meant so much to you; it makes me feel good.
Love you,
mum xxoo

gautami tripathy said...

Kitchen is the hub of the house. But most of us have forgotten that. You seem to have imbibed that lesson here.

Cook up a tale

UnfoldingRose said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of the kitchen of having a continuum with the rest of the fact, when i had written my post last night my mum and i talked about exactly that! i really liked your post.

Bohemian Mom said...

Absolutely loving this post!
Omg. I grew up with the same "avocado green" fridge & stove!
I remember the other colour available was "harvest gold"....oh the fabulous 70's!
And many frightening creations with the easy-bake-oven!
Good times!

Repeater said...

Excellent post, ti. You put us right there with you. Loved your mom's response, too. Does this mean she checks your blog now?

TI said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm glad you're liking this post. Repeater, as far as I know, my mother doesn't check the blog unless I ask her to. My younger brother is the only family member who reads it regularly.

Patty said...

The kitchen and the mother (woman) as the center of power. I can appreciate that very much. And thanks for sharing your mom's note.

paris parfait said...

How nice that you have the kitchen you always wanted! I had one of those Easy Bake ovens (a pink one) and made little minature cakes, cupcakes, etc. And I remember the macrame. My grandmother was always baking delicious cakes and pies - my own mother hated to cook and even had that Peg Bracken "I Hate to Cook" cookbook.

Tori said...

I think those plant hangers are awesome!
I just had a friend who purchased several. What goes around comes around. I love having a special spot for cookbooks in the kitchen too.
Great read!

Kimberley McGill said...

Lovely post and apparently a lovely kitchen as well. When people ask to help in my kitchen I have to shoo them out so we all won´t trip over each other. Such is the apartment life!