I’ll admit I was pretty bloody huffy when Barry the Sparkie kicked me out of the house so he could wire up the oven, because 1. Nobody likes to be called an ‘interferon’ and 2. I’d been using the oven as a bookshelf and this would seriously mess up my Penguins.
Finally, the kitchen is going in. There’s just a big hole at the moment, every surface of the living room-cum-bedroom covered in glasses and mugs and plates – like the morning after a fabulous party, without the hangover and regrettable amounts of cheese – however I have great expectations and none of them involve toast. I’ve reached peak toast.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve had a kitchen to call my own. Ah, the things you take for granted: grilling, baking, water coming out of taps above a sink … every day at the Purakanui bach has been just like camping; which sounds fun, until its winter and you’re doing the dishes in a bucket outside in minus three. A friend (who is either evil or doesn’t understand irony) gave me a drink coaster for my birthday with a picture of a 1950s housewife on it proclaiming, “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.” ‘Hahaha’ I think, every time I see it. Like fun it did. Raw food, Vegetarian, Paleo, I get it. These people don’t have kitchens either.
My cooking facilities consist of a microwave so old you want to turn it on from across the room wearing a tinfoil hat and using two brooms tapped together, a small fridge, a toaster and the top of a Klondike pot belly. I don’t have a sink, so water is ported from the bathroom.
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I’m not sure which region I’m aiming for on the younger man’s body, but it’s got to be somewhere in the vicinity. “You certainly haven’t been able to wine and dine me,” he said, only a little petulantly, knowing wining and dining is an older man’s job (also, by the time he gets to mine he’s been hiking across a ridgeline all day carrying his snowboard/throwing a bike down scree, and, led to believe there’s food and finding only cheese and crackers fails to hide his dismay, something I find secretly hilarious).
“How could you even entertain entertaining?” he asked, lending me a light-weight climbing stove to make him coffee, so at least there was some of that. I didn’t entertain it. There are the clear benefits to not having a kitchen. You never have to do dishes or know what a ‘roux’ is. People don’t come expecting dinner or even a platter of nibbles. They don’t come with so much as a ham sandwich in mind. They bring you food. And when you go to their house for dinner (I’m pretty sure) they find it gratifying when you eat everything on your plate and then also theirs as well as any leftovers, hoovering food up like a varsity student home for the holidays. “Lisa doesn’t have a kitchen,” they whisper to other guests behind their hands. Alright, you do lose some airs and graces. Ps and Qs get mislaid in a box somewhere with the colander. Plates and knives seem fancy and new-fangled when you’re used to a spork and an instant ramen bowl and napkins blow your mind – what the hell are they for, is it a little hat?
But this insistence on a place to cook and do the dishes is soooo provincial. Many New York studio apartments do not have kitchens, New Yorkers would rather have closets, and always eat out anyway, which makes me cosmopolitan, not primitive. Going kitchen-less is not new. Ethel Merman had the kitchens removed from her apartments in the Park Lane and the Berkshire Hotels, because with room service she never used them. But she did buy a toaster-oven to heat what one biographer, Bob Thomas, said was her favorite dish: chicken frankfurters. We toaster messiahs know kitchens are just jewelry for a house and I stopped wearing jewelry after that time a tree tried to eat my ear.
Studies show home cooking is a major ingredient in healthy diet although I think they might mean other people’s home-cooking. Still, I have a vision of me in a pinny, all domestic goddess twinkle and smelling of cake, spatula in one hand and a swipe of flour across my cheek. Come over, I’ll make you something nice. Maybe.