Tomorrow I say goodbye to my kitchen. After nearly 12 years of devoted service to me and my family, it is being ripped out and replaced with a shiny new, white kitchen.
I’ve been dying for a new kitchen for so long, that I didn’t think that I would feel so sentimental about saying goodbye to the old one. But I am. As I work to remove dishes, plates, cups and trays from the slowly buckling shelves, I can’t help reminisce and deeply feel the truth of the old adage that the kitchen is the heart of the home.
I’ve had disasters and triumphs, produced delicious food and some inedible muck, all within the comforting embrace of my cherry wood colored Formica cabinets and chrome appliances. Disasters included one over-spiced Thai curry that made my chilli-loving friends sweat and cry; a pan of brownies that did an Icarus on me as the baking paper drew too close to the element and burst into flames; a pot of pasta to which I forgot to add salt and discovered the hard way why salt is so vital to the success of all things noodle; the odd cake that looked great on the outside but was liquid on the inside, and a few other forgotten kitchen train wrecks.
Fortunately the triumphs have won out over the disasters, and I can only think back with joy on the hundreds of meals that have resulted in hugs from my kids and quietly loosened belts from my friends; perfectly baked cakes that have prompted shy young children of friends to whisper requests for reprises at later meals; old family favorites hauled out for the festivals, like kneidlach, tzimmes, brisket; the excitement of getting new dishes right when I thought only the experts could – sushi, caramel filled lava cakes, and even that elusive Thai curry that finally worked, didn’t kill my guests and was delicious.
I am already missing my single oven that bakes cakes so perfectly; my stovetop that has produced hundreds of “Orange Noodles”, which is my son Amit’s absolute favourite food, especially considering that he eats very little else; and my see-through glass kettle (to be replaced by a Tami 4), which has boiled water for so many thousands of cups of tea, drunk with love and kinship by visiting family members from around the world and great friends from around the corner.
My children grew up around my feet in this kitchen, sneaking around to find hidden snacks, slowly discovering their hiding places as they got older. My son Hadar taught himself to bake chocolate chip cookies and brownies here at the age of 11. I have watched them growing in this kitchen. At first they couldn’t reach the sink to pour water for themselves. Then they learned to drag chairs over and help themselves. And then the finishing line, when they could pour their own water from the little filter water tap on the far side of the sink. It was the equivalent of the notches on a door post, measuring their changing heights. My seven-year-old daughter has just got there, is just now able to reach the tap without a chair – an achievement that will be short-lived.
My husband and I have had most of our arguments in the kitchen. They are mostly about the over-generous quantities of food (yes, way too much) I like to prepare. In that kitchen I learned how lucky I am to have a husband who is as happy to be there as I am.
This kitchen has also felt the loving hands of my late mother, who would visit from South Africa, roll up her sleeves and wash dishes, even though I begged her not to. Her voice still echoes in that kitchen, telling me to “have a rest already.” It welcomed my late mother-in-law, who although would never herself have cooked with the decadent ingredients I used, loved to enjoy the results of my efforts and complimented me on my food with great admiration and love.
The kitchen has been a nook in which secrets have been passed, gossip exchanged and laughter shared. So long, dear room.
Now the time has come to look forward to the new memories in my sparkling white kitchen with its new appliances, fancy drawers and modern under-lighting. If these moments are half as wonderful as the ones to which my old faithful kitchen has served as a backdrop, I will be very blessed.