In November 2008, there was some ‘controversy’ at Mark Bittman’s New York Times food blog “Bitten” about the size of his small kitchen.
In response, he wrote: “I got a bunch of e-mails that say, “Can you believe all this stuff about your crummy kitchen?” But the whole idea is that you don’t need a fancy kitchen. You don’t need fancy equipment, and you don’t need fancy recipes. When I show people my kitchen, they believe it. But I hate my kitchen also. I bump my shins on the dishwasher. There is not enough room to put stuff. It’s a terrible stove. It’s a terrible dishwasher. I don’t have room for the pots I’d like to have. I’ve cooked in much worse, though. I’m used to it.”
As someone who has a small kitchen, a 11-year-old dishwasher, no ventilation fan, a mini-fridge with a tiny freezer, no microwave and mismatched pans, I wholly sympathized with Bittman’s plight. We had to get very creative with space in order to turn ours into a working kitchen. It’s much more user-friendly than when we first moved in but it’s far from the large, elegant kitchens you see in lifestyle magazines, which make it seem like you can’t cook unless you own a professional range, a gigantic fridge and the most expensive kitchen gadgets.
I’m with Bittman in that you don’t need the fancy kitchen to cook well. From my casual observations, the opposite is often true. Some of the worse cooks own fancy cooking equipment and many of the best cooks work in simple kitchens. We have a family friend with a palatial estate that is often a part of historic home tours. She is also an excellent cook. Yet her kitchen does not have fancy appliances, her pots and pans are well-used, and the place has a casual, lived-in feel. In contrast, I had a co-worker who bragged endlessly about her professional stainless steel kitchen range (Viking?). It was so beautiful that she was afraid to use it. Plus, she wasn’t much of a cook to begin with.
Someday we would like a bigger kitchen, too, but we know that the size (and the fanciness) really doesn’t matter. And I promise to stay away from professional style stoves no matter what.