I'm not sure how I developed "taste." Whether it's the food I eat or the kitchen where I cook, I've become what my dad refers to as "hotsy totsy." For someone who grew up in a house with one bathroom and nine people, you might think that 1) I would crave more and better and couldn't get enough of either, or 2) I wouldn't know the difference between plastic-wear and granite if my noggin collided with either substance. It seems I fall somewhere in between; but I'll admit it, I like nice things, and I adore a pretty kitchen. Studying them has become an obsession. But I only care about "the finer things in life," as far as they are able to take anyone because I know that what's important aren't those "things." It's about the people. And the place. If I think I can't live without marble countertops or Brazilian hardwood; if I believe my kitchen must mimic the latest craze featured on Houzz and a butcher block island must be ultra-designed, then I don't deserve them in the first place, because I haven't learned it's what happens in the kitchen that matters as much as that kitchen's appearance.
A kitchen that's All For Show? Where are the people? (photo credit: housekaboodle.com)
My mom cooked in a small kitchen at the back of our 1920's Dutch Colonial. There was an old white sink, the kind that incorporated a rippled drain board. There were dilapidated metal cabinets. She navigated little children's sniffly noses and pleas from the upstairs bathroom for help while she made spaghetti sauce in a pressure cooker. Her daughter (moi) has never mastered the use of a pressure cooker. It'd probably explode if I tried.
On the evening she returned home from the hospital after giving birth to my youngest brother, she stood at the kitchen counter in her pastel shirtwaist dress - a dress she managed to fit into five days after a pregnancy. (I'm guessing none of us appreciated that then, even me, since we were all under the age of eleven.) She peeled carrots and potatoes. And she browned a pot roast in the pressure cooker, then set the cooker so it functioned perfectly. She had 5 kids, a live-in mother-in-law and a new baby. Yet we sat down to dinner that evening as a family. And I knew it even then . . . that my mom had performed a miracle. No fancy roasting pans, no high-end cutlery - just her will, the conviction that a home-cooked meal was important, and enough love for one house and nine people.
A Jersey/Vermont Hybrid Writes