My Kitchen, 'Tis of Thee

Life without clean water, refrigerated storage, efficient stoves, a good dishwasher and lots of shelf space would be nasty, brutish and short.
How much kitchen do you really need?

I am not immune to the lure of a shiny new kitchen. And when I say that, I mean it in the way that the invaders from Mars were "not immune" to the common cold virus. About a year after we moved into our current house, we did a stopgap kitchen update to add counter space and make it look a little bit less like it had been assembled from pieces thrown into the Dumpster behind Home Depot. But it was always a stopgap, and in the intervening years, I have drooled over many a kitchen on home renovation shows or in the pages of a decorating magazine: white "coastal living"-style kitchens, ultra-modern kitchens, rustic kitchens, kitchens that at least have adequate shelving for your plates.

This longing grew especially urgent when the open shelving installed by our handyman failed, destroying much of our storage space and a large collection of Fiestaware. So we're now stopping the stopgap with an Ikea Kallax shelving unit perched atop our freestanding counter. The result is admirably efficient and unlikely to come tumbling down again at 1 a.m. But I have to admit that the aesthetic effect is a trifle odd. I'm now clicking before and after shots on GardenWeb's kitchen forum like one of those rats in lab experiments that get a bit of cocaine every time they press the lever.

So it's a pretty useful corrective to read posts like this:

You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR.
This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I'm pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke. Sweet Jesus. Thank you, precious kitchen.
Inside my refrigerator is FOOD. Healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children. Not mine. When this food runs out, I'll just jump in my car to get more. It's ludicrous, really. It's like my family hits the lottery every freaking morning.
THIS CRAZY THING IS A WATER FAUCET. I pull this lever and CLEAN WATER POURS OUT EVERY TIME, DAY OR NIGHT. Mamas everywhere spend their entire day walking miles to and from wells just for a single bucket of this -- and I have it right here at my fingertips. I'm almost embarrassed to say that we also have one of these in each of our two bathrooms, and one in the front yard with which to WASH OUR FEET. We use clean drinking water to WASH OUR FEET. Holy bounty.

Because the truth is, my kitchen is more than adequate. It looks a bit funny, and sometimes I have to take extra steps. But it's filled with magic stuff that would have made my great-grandmother faint from envy. And I'm not just talking about my amazing collection of kitchen gadgets. I'm talking about things like my mid-range GE oven, which has a thermostat so that I don't have to make "try cakes," burners that are instantly adjustable and insulation so effective that I have to be careful about the puff of very hot steam that hits my face every time I open it during cooking. My refrigerator, which not only keeps things cold, but also makes me ice -- automatically. My quiet dishwasher with a garbage disposal built right in so I neither have to pre-rinse nor clean the gunk off the bottom. I am already living in The Future, and it is awesome.

Oh, and the Kallax has cubbies that are just the right space for many of my most-used gadgets, so I've also cleared the counters up a bit in the kitchen proper.

I love a good-looking, convenient kitchen, and I still hope one day to have one. One day pretty soon, actually. But I don't really need it; I want it. I have everything I need in my kitchen right now: amazing tools to cook with, more fresh, delicious ingredients than any human has ever had available at any previous time in human history, and people to cook for. The rest is a side plot. Maybe an interesting and enjoyable side plot. But it should never be a distraction from the main show.

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