What is it about kitchens that make some of us filled with equal parts of lust and insecurity? Does a great kitchen replete with a bristling armoury of shiny appliances and gadgets actually improve one’s cooking ability? Do you ever notice the fancier the kitchen is often correlates to how shite the cook is that owns it? Some of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in people’s homes have emerged from the most humble of kitchens; the opposite could be said from the most luxe of kitchens.
In what seems a lifetime ago, we did a massive reno on our house complete with the kind of kitchen I deluded myself into thinking I needed. Let’s just say that my love affair with stainless steel was ground out of me by three pairs of perpetually grubby toddler’s hands. I also learned that despite the deafening noise from the shiny exhaust canopy it’s sucking power was questionable at best and that the expensive European oven was like having a twelve string guitar, Its spends half its time out of tune and you spend the other half trying to tune it. Lying exhausted on the couch every evening, my hands swollen from hours of polishing the surfaces of the kitchen I sombrely resolved never to get sucked in again.
Fast forward to the present day we had decided to renovate our kitchen and bathrooms. Browsing through what I like to call an ‘Unobtainable lifestyle magazine’ I was astonished by intoxicating page after page of alluring kitchen hardware. Powder coated baby blue Aga’s, Moss green Smegs, burnished tap-wear, frosted glass cabinets and my bottom lip quivered…Butler Sinks!
My wife recognised that look on my face and snatched the mag from my hand, threw some salt over my left shoulder, did three hail Mary’s and burnt that unholy magazine at the stake. It was a close call.
Months later we had decided on a modest makeover of sorts. Work began quickly and before we knew it the kitchen was a shell. Though we were aware of what was about to take place the reality of having no oven, work benches and the usual accoutrements of the kitchen momentarily left us a tad underprepared.
Once we jettisoned the mind-set that we were missing these things we found our cooking shaped by the sandwich press, the microwave and the kettle very liberating. In fact the ease and speed that our reduced repertoire was able to be conjured was such a revelation that I briefly imagined our new kitchen with only these three items in it.
Cooking with these basics is a lot like being in a caravan or tent on holidays with all that breezy nonchalance that being on leave can permeate.
It’s this feeling I try to recall when I get home stressing about what I’ll end up cooking for my family and their particular and peculiar tastes, rules and cant-eats.