Thursday, January 8, 2009

The generation of "Broken Promises"

I live in an old Victorian home in Northern California.  The streets of my town are lined with these graceful grand ladies.  Some of them date back to the 1860's, lovingly festoons with corbels, crown moulding, and stained glass windows.  On the other side of my town is a recently built gated community with ever-so-close, large cookie cutter style houses with huge bathrooms and modern appliances.

Like any nosey neighbors, my friend Sandi and I , on a lazy Sunday decided to take a tour of the model homes.  We followed the dancing sign holder and began the tour.  Truth be told, Sandi and I are partial to our old houses and would probably never consider a move to one of these houses. One of the trends that I noticed, were that the grand kitchens/great room design of these houses.  And, I must admit, that it would be really nice to have a large kitchen to entertain in.  After all,  at every party I have ever been too, the guest gravitate towards the delicious  aromas in the kitchen, where we drink a glass of wine and have some laughs.  While on our tours, I daydreamed about a lovely Christmas party with crystal champagne flutes and petit fours.  I then began to contrast that lovely scene with my own kitchen and thought... if only...

The kitchen in my house is noticeable smaller than the grand kitchen/great room of its modern counterpart.  Strangely, though, Victorians had greater uses for their kitchens.  While the era of,  "dining as entertainment" and fast foods was decades out of their reach, our grandmothers spent a great deal of time in their kitchens.  And, as in our modern era, I am sure the party guest ended up in this room as well.  Surely, someone would have designed a larger kitchen for the housewife of yesteryear. 

Which begs the question:  Why do modern houses place so much emphasis on the large kitchen?  Most modern peoples eat dinner out at least twice a week.  we rarely eat lunch at home anymore and when we do eat at home, we need a quick meal, because our daily live are packed solid with homework, projects, doctor's appointments, etc...  I have some friends who have never cooked a meal, their kitchens are nothing more than a fancy place holder for their coffee maker.

I came to realize that when we purchase a home, shampoo, a cell phone.  We are not purchasing the product as much as purchasing the promise.  The promise of that thing that we want most.  The promise that this product, large or small, will give us, admiration from our peers, extra time with family and friends, gorgeous thighs, whiter teeth, or the perfect golf swing.  Then that  grand kitchen/great room is just a symbol of those broken promises we make to ourselves.  Sure, there are always exceptions.  But, more often than not, we expect products and services to add richness to our existence instead of finding that richness within ourselves.  My grandmother made the most delicious peach cobbler, and she didn't need  a state of the art kitchen to do it.

Two years ago my fiance and I had a roommate.  He was going through some tough times and he asked if he could share our food with us.  We agreed, but soon realized that he ate everything in the cupboard that didn't require any preparation, or minimal preparation.  You know: potato chips, microwave burritos, macaroni and cheese from a box.  He also drank all of the soda and fruit juices.  I soon realized that Maurice (my fiance) and I had to prepare every meal from raw ingredients, and since we were stretching our food budget to  feed another adult, going out for food, or even pizza delivery was out of the question.

The results were surprising.  I started to really enjoy my kitchen, I spent lots of time in there now and I looked forward to cooking.  I loved experimenting with new herbs and spices, My culinary skills improved drastically.  Maurice started bragging to his coworkers about the new recipes.  We spent time together, talking and laughing.  We started looking forward to packing lunches.  We lost weight without even trying.  We spent less time in front of the t.v. and had more energy.    We even managed to save money in the process.

We now only buy raw ingredients, everything is cooked fresh everyday.  We still eat out, but it is usually for a special event or occasion.  We still have fast food, but only as a last resort, and we make better choices.  We actually pack lunches.  Oh... and the roommate complained that we were starving him out, and moved.

So, this month's focus is on getting to love your kitchen again.  Everything from a properly stocked pantry, to great recipes you will love.  So, let's keep that "promise" of a tricked out kitchen.  



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