Perhaps, to analyze the history of kitchen as a concept would be a cumbersome task, so I would bind myself to the history of this particular kitchen. But again as soon as I try to describe it I realize that its history is relevant only to my personal experience, I can say nothing about this place before I experience it. Though I can describe its objective features (as its measurements – the height of the ceiling, the area-size), this would say little about what do I mean when describing my kitchen. However, these objective details influence my conceptual understanding of it. For instance, the absence of windowsills. All my previous apartments had them – and quite spacious – to grow herbs on them or even sit and read the book. In my perception, this absence makes my kitchen incomplete if not defective. I am thinking of why it has been built without such an obvious interior detail. Even if the reasons were only pragmatic – to save the space and money – the outcomes might be much more significant. Growing plants on the windowsills is not a mere hobby; it is also a political act to some extent. For example, Belasco in his analysis of impact which relationships with food had made on the counterculture of California in the 60-s, points that “even for those not expecting The End, environmentalism was emerging as the left’s primary vehicle for outrage and hope, edging aside civil rights, the antiwar movement, and revolutionary socialism” (23). He argues that this type of opposition attracted thousands of people as it did not ask for any sacrifice: everybody could contribute to the global change by merely growing lettuce in an outdoor garden or… right, on a kitchen windowsill. No windowsills – no revolutionary ideas of self-sustainability. It is interesting that at the same time its built-in furniture includes a slot for a microwave oven. This slot had already existed when I moved in. In fact, it was constructed intentionally by someone who had no idea whether future tenants would ever have microwaves. But it was presupposed that these future tenants would rather rewarm their food than grow it. I see this slot as a reinforcement of canned plastic way of life where little is produced but too much is over-consumed. By the way, I put my printer in it.
Another notable feature of my kitchen is the big black table, which serves as a borderline between two sections. These sections are too not so much physical as figurative. One space could be described as “cooking”, or “traditional” and another – as “working”, or “creative”. From the latter perspective I can see the church across the street, in the meantime my sight crosses the “cooking” part with a cupboard, a stove, which stands for Thanksgiving turkey and pies obviously, and a dining table – and all these – the Church, the Dinner, the Fireplace – aren’t they a quintessence of “traditional” values?
But if I sit near the window and look in the opposite direction – I can see something that can be barely detected as a kitchen – this is the space for creative process, my table immediately appears to be a working table, not dining table. And I can see our drawings, drum station, books etc. Depending on where I sit or stand I get completely different image of what my kitchen is with the table as a frontier. Depending on where I sit or stand I also embody different identities, which in their turn can transit from one part into another. By crossing the border between “working” space and “cooking” space I can bring with and within myself the essence of corresponding space and infuse it in another. It was definitely the transition of those identities when I first wrote a paper about kombucha for one of my classes, then started my final project on kombucha, and finally brought it all into “traditional” part to brew a real one.
Belasco, W.J. (1993). Appetite for change. How the counterculture took on the food industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.