Saturday, January 31, 2009

Letting it all hang out

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I love to cook and equally, I love to gaze through my “window” (no glass, just security bars) at our ancient mango tree which attracts brilliant little birds such as flowerpeckers, sunbirds and tailor birds.
If the super-trim, minimalist kitchens installed in the new homes of my sister, Jillian, and sister-in-law, Ilona, are anything to go by, my 50-year old kitchen is (not surprisingly) hopelessly out of date. I was stunned to use drawers that slide back effortlessly on rollers, and to have loads of bench space. But although Jillian’s kitchen has a small walk-in pantry where everything is arranged on shelves so you can see at a glance what you’ve got, everything else in both kitchens is hidden away. Not in old-fashioned cupboards where you can fling open the door and see several shelves of stuff, but in those whisper-quiet sliding drawers.
Want a coffee cup? Pull out a drawer. A mixing spoon or a large ceramic platter, a grater or a glass? They’re all in those damn drawers! And as each drawer holds only a fairly small amount (and I could never remember of what), I kept going from one to the other in search of the elusive item.

I have decided that I really appreciate aspects of my tiny old kitchen (apart from its bird-watching opportunities). I enjoy seeing what I want hanging up there, whether it’s my bamboo ginger grater or an antique brass draining spoon with the original owner’s name engraved on the handle.

It gives me great pleasure to see my copper pots hanging on the wall (even if they do need a shine), and it gives me a sense of continuity to be cooking traditional Asian dishes with the various coconut spoons or clay pots that would have been used when my kitchen was new.
As a Timorese friend once remarked, my kitchen is “seperti dapu nenek-ku” (it’s just like my grandmother’s kitchen).

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