Of penne, Parmesan and planes

Tonight, supper is Jamie Oliver’s Penne Arrabiata, which, I think, epitomizes Jamie’s nakedness: good, simple, food. Preparing this dish is really no harder than opening a jar of prepared sauce, as long as you know how to chop an onion (although I have to admit I am not impressed with the actual writing of the recipe – it’s not clear whether or not the tomatoes are meant to be drained (assume no, given 25-30 minutes of simmering), and the order of the ingredients does not match the order of instructions. Mind you, I spent today discussing how to grade essays with my colleagues, so it is remotely possible that I am hypercritical at the moment).
While the sauce simmers and the penne al dentes, I’m taking a few minutes for some blogging directly from the kitchen – which kind of brings me to my point.
It was while I was planing the Parmesan that it occurred to me that (a) I rarely discuss kitchen equipment, if ever, and (b) this is because my kitchen is perfect. I have cooked in other kitchens, and I have decided that one’s kitchen is an incredibly personal space. No one else’s kitchen really satisfies me – there’s always some key tool missing, or some organizational decision that leaves me baffled. But in my kitchen, every thing I need is there, in the place it most logically belongs. I even designed the actual space – our house is over 100 years old, and the original layout of the kitchen was, frankly, ridiculous. So around the same time that Robert (son #2) came along, we invested what seemed like an astronomical amount of money in the kitchen – and it’s truly perfect.
I assume that people who don’t cook, or who do, but reluctantly or resentfully, don’t have the same relationship with their kitchens. My kitchen is, I think, more intimate a space for me than my home office or my bedroom (certain moments naturally excepted). It makes me a little anxious to have other people cooking in my kitchen. It really grates on my nerves when certain husbands who shall remain nameless play the wrong kind of music in the kitchen.
Part of what makes my kitchen so perfect is that I am, it must be said, (probably) over-equipped. The Parmesan? Once upon a time, we used pre-grated Parmesan (oh the shame – yes, it was K-word brand). Now, in my perfect kitchen, our penne will be topped with freshly planed Parmesan, thanks to my microplane grater. I have two knife blocks, because that’s how many knives I have – and most of those are Henkels. I have a big microwave – big enough that it required a custom-built cabinet. Ditto the fridge – which has a bottom-mount freezer, another of my must-haves.
I could go on and on (and you may feel I already have). Suffice it to say that I love my kitchen, as a cooking space and as a living space.
Now it’s your turn – what makes your kitchen your kitchen?

5 Replies to “Of penne, Parmesan and planes”

  1. You mean to say you don’t have a Slap and Chop, that comes with this amazing free grater for Parmesan cheese, how have you manage without this essential handy tool in your kitchen!!!!(grin)77

  2. I love your kitchen! I love cooking in mine, and so I love it because it’s where I create special meals, treats, etc. But I don’t love it as a space. It will take time (and money) before it becomes “my kitchen”–it’s getting there little by little though. So here’s what my dream kitchen would look like (not quite the question you asked buy hey!). I want new cabinets. Ours are ugly!Something not white–shows the dirt (or sauce stains too easily) with classy door handles. I’d like to organize our cabinets much, much better (or add to them so I wouldn’t have to rummage all the time to find this or that. I’d also like it if it were easier to get to things–often it’s awkward. I want to get talavera tiles from Mexico and put them behind the microwave and stove. It will keep the wall space cleaner and look beautiful at the same time. I want a kick ass fridge (not the plain jane one we found on Craigslist) and a new smaller microwave. I really could use more counter space but I’m not sure how that could be managed.
    The one thing I do love about my kitchen is it’s a very warm, inviting space. At parties, it’s not uncommong for a good half of the guests to hang out in the kitchen and gab. I also love looking out on the porch from the kitchen, and I love my hardwood floors. My kitchen does have charm which is important to me in general, and I guess that’s what makes it my kitchen even though it will take a few years before it becomes “my kitchen.”

  3. I spend most of my time in the kitchen (mostly because it’s also the home of our washing machine), and ideally, it would be the heart of our home. British kitchens (as you probably know) tend to be on the small side, so I find ours pretty frustrating. No counter space, no cupboard space. Feh. But having said that, like you, I’ve got lots of kitchen items that just fill my heart with joy. Love my Global knives. Love my Bialetti coffee maker. Love my Analon pans. Love my Microplaner (it’s also fantastic for making garlic and ginger purees for curries.) My dream is to have a large kitchen/diner with an island and two ovens.

  4. I like my kitchen, but it’s the pantry that brings a smile to my face whenever I open the door. (When we first saw the apartment and the landlord showed us the pantry, I gave The Fiance one look and he threw up his hands in resignation.)
    In addition to the shelves of pasta, rice and grains, dry and canned beans, tetra-packed soy milk, bottles of salsa, and spices, I’ve introduced a bookshelf crammed full of cookbooks and another three-tiered shelf for food processors, blender, breadmaker, steamers, and myriad other gadgets. There’s a hook for my aprons and another for shopping bags. And I can store empty jars of all kinds along the top shelves, so I know I can house anything from a massive tub of pickles to a smidge of leftover salad dressing.
    I’m not one of those girls who needs a walk-in closet, but a walk-in pantry was a dream I didn’t even know I had until it came true.

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