Kitchens Hidden Language

What do our kitchens mean to us? How do they speak to us? Today, Jay opens the fridge, the cabinets, and more in search of an answer.

Jay opens the microwave door, inserts a bowl, and turns on the machine.

JAY: Kitchens give us sustenance–what type and how much seems limited only by our imaginations. Their purpose extends far beyond preparing food. Kitchens are the beginnings and endings of our days, they’re little snacks in between, and they’re always trying to tell us something.

“Carnival” by smallertide begins

When I recently announced that I was contemplating ways in which our kitchens communicate with us, my wife laughed.

“This kitchen tells us one thing,” she said. “That it’s impossible for two people to cook together in this space.”

It’s entirely likely that she said this while sliding past whatever sprawling work station I’d set up on the kitchen counter. And she was probably sidestepping a beagle or two snooping for crumbs on the floor. Obviously, she had a point: Our kitchen can feel cramped.

However, is tight space necessarily a bad thing? Those who share kitchen space are forced to collaborate and communicate. At the most basic level, they must work out who does what when. That’s easy enough to plan ahead of time–you’ll make soup on Sunday, I’ll bake bread on Tuesday, and so forth.

But what if more than one person must bake or cook in the kitchen at the same time? They must choreograph a chaotic and hurried pattern of pauses and dashes, of starting and stopping, of avoiding or nearly colliding. When my wife and I engage in this kitchen dance, we might be bearing sharp knives or lugging pots of boiling water. We waltz and minuet and carry a conversation overtop usually loud music. And somehow we do collaborate and communicate–we’ve yet to cut or scald each other when sharing the space.

Anyway, all of this made me wonder more about kitchens and the different languages–

The microwave BEEPS five times, music STOPS

JAY: Ah, let me get that out of the microwave first.

Continue reading →