I love having my own kitchen, even though I joke that it's the smallest kitchen in America. (I'm sure it's not, but for the record, my counter space is smaller than my desk -- and that's not very big.)
When I finally moved into a place where I wasn't sharing someone's dishes, or using tea towels that I hadn't picked out (read that lament here), I was so ecstatic the space was mine that I didn't care how big or small the counter was -- I would make it work.
I acquired my own tea towels, found nooks and crannies in cabinets for the ever-growing Pyrex collection, and I managed to cook an astonishing amount of food in such a small space.
Occasionally, though I feel like it's not working. When I burn something, I have to open the front door -- which is only a refrigerator's width away from the stove -- to let the smoke out before the detector blares again.
My tiny wooden doll from Bulgaria seems to stare down at me from the spice rack, as if to reprimand me for cooking in such a small space to begin with.
Perched next to the Hungarian paprika, she herself is a size more fitting for my doll-house like kitchen.
I have to remind myself that my kitchen is still much larger than many people around the world. My friend Natasha taught me that anything is possible -- even in a doll-sized Ukrainian kitchen. She has one of the tiniest kitchens I've ever seen. Yet I've eaten some of the most delicious made-from-scratch food from that kitchen.
A while back, I saw a photo essay on kitchens in various parts of the world. I wish I had bookmarked it, because now I can't find it.
I did however, find this gem during my search: a photobook project by Gabriele Galimbert, featuring grandmothers from around the world with their favorite recipes. There's some serious inspiration in many of those dishes -- and most of those kitchens don't look enormous to me.
Over the years, I've also been inspired by the kitchens I've eaten in around the world. It's made me realize that we have fallen for a great lie in America in believing that the bigger the kitchen, the better the cook (I blame the Food Network, even though I too drool over their kitchens...)
I don't think there is anything wrong at all with having a big kitchen. In fact, I'd love one myself. I dream of counter space that I can actually keep appliances on top of, rather than in boxes in the closet. I think it would be grand to have a place for all of my pots and pans so that they're not on the stove top 24/7.
However, I don't think having a small kitchen should stop you from cooking, experimenting and generally enjoying the culinary process. My kitchen and I have made a mess together of homemade ice-cream, dehydrated apples, yogurt, bundt cakes, cupcakes, beef and chicken pies galore, stir-fries, French fries, brewed kombucha, soups from scratch and so much more.
I think small kitchens can sometimes wield the most miraculous outcomes. So rather than dreaming of a larger kitchen, I'm dreaming up new dishes to make in my small one.
Later this week, I'll be posting some small kitchen organization tips. In the meantime, happy cooking!