Thanks to Reinventing Dad for his suggestion of this week's topic -- The Kitchen:
There’s a lot to like about American kitchens – especially the ones on TV ads. They are all huge, painted white and bathed in blinding sunlight. Actually, most of them are a lot bigger than typical British kitchens, unless you live in Manhattan of course.
The trend I’m trying to buck, which is sneaking its way over the Pond I see, is the live-in kitchen. You know, the great big room, which also encompasses living quarters and a small office area? I had one of those in my last house. I thought it might be good for keeping an eye on small children while cooking the dinner. It is if they’re bolted into a high chair, but once they become mobile, they are just mini death traps, following you around as you carry scalding hot things from one surface to the other.
The live-in kitchen also means you can’t get away from the dishes. We had a sofa, chair and TV in our last kitchen, and even though I’m not the world’s most “domestic” person, I couldn’t relax while the stupid pans with wooden handles (i.e. not suitable for the dishwasher) sat by the side of the sink. In my present house, which we gutted and redesigned, my kitchen is an entirely separate room, complete with doors; there’s not a comfy chair in sight! It’s meant only for cooking and eating, although I must admit to a mini office taking up residence next to the bread bin. (I must find a better place for in-coming mail.)
My greatest joy in the kitchen is the little hose that comes standard with American sinks. It sits right next to the big tap(s) and is great for hosing down the sink, blasting sticky things off plates before they go in the d/w, and even for keeping lippy teenagers in check etc. In the beginning I was prone to soaking myself before I realized it’s best to point the thing at the sink before turning the water on.
My biggest kitchen regret is that the built-in draining board is almost unknown here alas. Corian, a counter-top manufacturer, do a fab continuous counter top and sink, with built-in draining board, meaning that you can clean up and tip it all straight into the sink, (which of course has a waste disposal). However, most Americans, if they wash anything by hand, place a tea-towel next to the sink (sometimes a hand towel, they can’t seem to distinguish the two) and pile everything precariously on there. They do sell “European” draining racks in the stores, but that’s just one more piece of kitchen equipment I have to find a home for isn’t it?
I'm standing outside my kitchen door trying to imagine American-sized appliances in there. Currently, we have a washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer and a stove in there. The reason I'm standing out here trying to imagine it is, if they were all American-sized, I can't imagine being able to fit in there with them. And my kitchen is unusual only in that it is relatively large; when we briefly considered moving, we viewed two-story houses that had less space than our flat, and the kitchens were tiny.
To be fair, I have been in some houses that have kitchens the size of the ones I remember from the US, but they are the exception. The new flats they are chucking up all over the southeast—lovingly referred to as breezeblock barracks—have kitchen half the size of ours.
But for all that, I have few complaints. Despite the fact that all of the appliances measure about 20 inches wide and fit under the kitchen counters, they are plenty big enough. Seriously, American fridges might be big, but they are mostly filled with crap, and you really don't want to go poking around in the hidden depths for fear of what you might find. And, as a single man in the States, when I kept my fridge clutter-free, it simply looked pathetic holding only a six-pack of Corona, a bottle of milk and some left over pizza.
Our freezer actually holds more than my American freezer did, and the washer and dryer, though they can't hold nearly as much as an American washer/dryer, are adequate if used intelligently.
But the stove—this malevolent electric monster too small to hold a full-sized turkey and with only two temperature settings (not hot enough, and way too hot)—has been the bane of our existence since moving in. And I doubt it's suddenly going to get any better. I can see it now, sitting there at the end of the counter, just waiting to inflict more mischief on me. On those few occasions when we do cook a large dinner, things have to be cooked in shifts, so the food is either burned, cold or still on the stove being heated up. We use the microwave a lot.
Fortunately, even imagining it stuffed full of major appliances, I can still reach around the door way and fetch a beer out of the fridge. I think I'll do that now and continue my ruminations from the safety of the balcony.
Got something you want us to address? E-mail your suggestion to us or just pop it into the comment box
Spring in the park
14 hours ago