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Kitchen (pantry, dining room, laundry room) [Apr. 23rd, 2006|11:38 pm]


[music |Mindless Faith - Transcend (-=- MPEGRadio.Com -=- tormented radio / djdead)]

Kitchen—food preparation, storage.

The kitchen is amazing room. In its essence, it is a place to prepare food for eating. But that statement weighs in with all the gravity of the role food and eating play in human culture.

Kitchens are semi-public. You can walk into someone else’s kitchen, but you know you don’t belong there. The arrangement of a kitchen is molded to the needs of the cook or cooks to whom it belongs.

A kitchen is a statement of the abilities, lifestyle, and philosophies of the cook. All social and psychological indicators of a person can be found at a glance in the kitchen if you know what to look for. Most people don’t, but there it is.

It also tells a lot about a family, about how communal the kitchen is and the relative importance of the food preparer in the family hierarchy. By its public nature, the kitchen is an arena for the cook to assert social dominance over others.

Thus the kitchen is seldom central to a house. Central areas are communal. But the kitchen seeks to be visual, to exert its hegemony and importance over its particular territory. Like Texas—it’s a border state, but it’s big and it wants everybody to know it’s there.

There are three rooms commonly associated with the kitchen: the laundry room, the pantry, and the dining room.

The dining room and pantry are attached by function, the laundry room by plumbing.

The pantry is the most directly related to the kitchen, and its purpose is purely storage. However, the pantry seldom comes under the hegemony of the cook/kitchen. Or at least not nearly to the same degree. This is because the pantry is filled from outside the kitchen by communal effort. Now if does the shopping and stocking, the pantry will likely be off-limits.

The dining room is where the household pays tribute to the kitchen and vice-versa. The successful interface between house and kitchen is a point of pride, and this is where it is developed and shown-off. The destruction of that dynamic usually ends up with people eating in the kitchen, living room, or other personal spaces. This is part of the significance of breakfast-in-bed.

The laundry has no direct causal connection to the kitchen. But it often ends up adjacent simply by plumbing. Our house is a classic example where the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom are clustered together. This also has the classic result of putting the pantry in the laundry room.

As far as social spaces, the laundry room is an open social space that no one wants to enter, or look at. Another common placement of laundry rooms are in the equivalent of a closet. Are there secrets in laundry rooms? There is the euphemism of “airing one’s dirty laundry.” This is similar to the bathroom and its social ignored commonalities—getting things dirty, especially underwear. Because even women leave skid-marks.

Thus, there may be a more subversive point in placing the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen—reminding the “housewife” or “servant” of their place, lest the cook feel to self-important, to say “yes, the kitchen is yours, but so is the dirty underwear.”

[User Picture]From: foolfaerie420
2006-04-24 05:26 am (UTC)
In communal living situations, and really most modern families I think making the kitchen a communal space is prime.

For many years I worked in a communal Tea-house at Rennaisance Faires here in California. At the end of the season I would return home and really miss the easy sense of shared space that the Teahouse of the Mullah Nasrudin's donkey had cultivated in the food and drink preparation areas.

Over time I noticed that the primary difference between that kitchen and mine was the central and dominating presence of the refrigerator at home. Without the fridge there was room for people to hang out in the kitchen.

Like Texas, the problem was more specific than just the kitchen's need for primacy...it was just the big,loud, energy sucking fridge that needed to be put out back. There is a west-entrance greenhouse which receives the extra heat from the Fridge. Someday I would really like to get a Sunfrost, until then the beast stays outside.

One thing that this immediately ceases...no one staring into the fridge bored wandering...it is just too far to go unless you are serious about fetching food.

Sometimes we let a bit of milk spoil. I would love to build a wall-based appliance which uses passive cooling...a sargassa of sorts...as a kitchen cooler for veggies and eggs and such. Sort of an old-fashioned wire cooler. Many foods prepare best if started at room temperature, and we tend to eat veggies right up. It did help to get a butter dish, a cheesetray with cover, and a breadbox.
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