Thursday, January 5, 2012

Creating the Kitchen You Want

Here I am cooking in my kitchen just outside Kyoto, Japan in about 1972. Look for the sauce pan sitting on the cutting board in my post of Essential Cookware below.

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen so I have some thoughts, gathered from nearly 44 years of working in 11 apartment or home kitchens, on what makes for a workable, healthful, and lovable space. From graduate student housing (see my very first blog for a photo) to Taiwan and Japan, from four kitchens in Durham, North Carolina to Berkeley and Sonoma in the present, I’ve put my mark on all of them and have extensively down-to-the-studs renovated two.

I renovated this kitchen in Durham, North Carolina in about 1991. 

Just one thought before I begin: If I think that I need the fanciest, snazziest kitchen around in order to cook good food, I am dead wrong. I can cook good food in almost any kitchen, primitive as it might be. Two propane burners (which always run out mid-cooking of course), cold water, and a counter that was 2 x 2 feet square may not be the ideal cooking space but I was able to cook pretty good Chinese and Japanese food in it. I remind myself that those conditions were a lot nicer than what many folks around the world use daily, squatting over an open fire on a dirt floor or a charcoal-burning brazier on the street. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook in a nice, well-accessorized kitchen, but it is not necessary.

That said, I want you to have a kitchen you love. If you don’t like it or haven’t made it your own, chances are you will cook less and that would be a pity.

So I’m going to tell you first what I’ve done to improve many of my kitchens and second what I think is important if you are renovating.

I bet some of you, perhaps all of you, have suggestions to add. Please let me know and I’ll update this post in a few weeks. Send me photos too if you have them.

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