Right now, I am kitchen-less. Not literally, the kitchen is still there, but completely out of action for the next few days. It’s temporary, my living room is being redecorated so most of its content is in the kitchen with just the largest furniture left in situ, wrapped up Christo style. I’m existing in the study on a diet of local café meals, coffee and red wine (and putting on weight as a result). That’s got me thinking about the importance of the kitchen for me. Without it I feel emasculated.
Life revolves around the kitchen. Even when not really ‘cooking’, I concoct with whatever food is around. I love cooking for friends and family, people I trust enough to experiment with. And, when I’m here alone, the smell of stock simmering on the stove or a daube cooking slowly in the oven is what makes this place my home rather than a place to sleep. I guess I comfort cook as much as comfort eat.
I’m sure my love-affair comes from childhood. I grew up in a small seaside town, where my dad was the local GP. We lived in a huge seaside villa with the surgery on the side of the house. We had a big kitchen garden and all of us joined in digging potatoes, cutting asparagus and picking soft fruit. We also had an orchard and grew far too many apples, pears and plums for any normal family. As a result our kitchen, was always full of family and friends with mum cooking and preserving things (recipes always from Mrs Beeton or the Radiation New World Cook Book), and the rest of us talking, eating and socialising. My mum wasn’t a great cook, but she was a very social person and so, I believe, the connection between kitchen and home was formed for me. To me, the kitchen really is the heart of the home.
Never mind, I’ve been doing other things! Last night I went to a fabulous ballet triple bill and was lucky enough to see Ivan Vasiliev. You can find more about that in my review of English National Ballet. And, I’ve done a splendid short tour of the local cafes and bars under the pretext of not being able to cook. Finally I’ve been back to the Harwood Arms after a year of staying away because of some poor service when they were rocketed to fame by their first Michelin star.
And it’s nearly all over. I’ve just got back from shopping for food…I’m already planning my first supper and looking forward to the return of the kitchen!