Sunday, December 14, 2008

To every room there is a purpose

Mark Bittman, writing in the New York Times about his 7' x 6' kitchen:

... when it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don’t count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience.
So why do I want a bigger kitchen? Well, part of it is having enough room to put everything away. As with many 19th-century homes, ours has very little storage space. No coat closet by the front door, single tiny closets in the bedrooms, and a cobbled-together broom closet and pantry. We have nine linear feet of upper cabinets in the kitchen, and the majority of the shelves are out of comfortable reach. 

Part of it is having enough room for both of us to work at the same time without getting in each other’s way. That’s really a layout issue more than a size issue, but it’s easy to confuse those. I’m quite sure that Mark Bittman is not trying to cook alongside another person in his kitchen, nor is he trying to avoid cross-contamination because of food allergies.

Part of it is wanting more or larger appliances. I want to add laundry to the kitchen, since we don’t have a good way to add it to the second floor. It would be nice to replace our kitchen and basement refrigerators with a single larger refrigerator and a freezer. We don’t need a larger oven, but we could definitely use an extra burner or two somewhere in the kitchen since we often run out of burners when we’re hosting a crowd.

And part of it is wanting to have a comfortable space for other people to hang out in while we cook. Our kitchen is quite separated from the rest of the house, and there’s nowhere to add a passthrough or other conversational connection. I don’t think we need to go as far as the Edinburgh kitchen we used that included a sofa, but some sort of seating or standing room that isn’t in the working traffic corridor would be great.

Bittman’s point, of course, is that none of this is relevant to cooking well. He’s right. Cooking, by itself, doesn’t require storage or a good workflow or conversation. None of what I want to improve in our kitchen about cooking well. I already do that. What I want to improve in our kitchen is about living well.

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