In the quintessential misogynistic idyllic stereotype women would only be barefoot and pregnant patrolling it and yet, in an ironic twist the sexist, elitists believed women incapable of true artisan gastronomy and the rigors of the lifestyle to thus attempt in driving them vehemently from the kitchen.
Despite my disdain for both conceptualizations the kitchen is my affirmation and in contempt of both ideas… as this past weekend reminded me the importance of the kitchen to the family.
The kitchen is a gathering place for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and from the most basic influences that would be a reason to be inspired by it. Even in its most primal conception it can transcend the full pyramid of physiological/safety/belonging/esteem/self-actualization for any given person but for me it more than supported the upper echelon in such a way that it probably redefines most people’s self-actualization precept without trying to return a career out of the experience.
“If our impulses were confined to hunger, thirst and desire, we might be nearly free; but now, we are moved by every wind that blows and a chance word or scene that may convey to us – Marry Shelley
As a child of a family that didn’t purely identify with either of my parent’s cultures or the US born citizen culture of the 70s I was seemingly alone among my peers who were either extremely ethnocentric or where somewhat xenophobic in my love of the kitchen. After all, if it weren’t for the kitchen I wouldn’t be a musician or a technologist… Fortunately, however I split the difference of sociocultural stupidity so to speak and embraced a wide range of culinarily-cultural experiences which helped shape my perception in the kitchen, which in turn defined my worldly acceptance particularly because my personal perception was shaped by my familial freedom.
Time progressed and what I learned from my mom, my dad, my grandmas and experienced with my sister provided me with the foundation I have now. As a child making Sunday breakfast with my parents allowed my sister and I do the same for them. As a child making holiday fare with my grandmas allowed me to do the same for my family now. As a youth creating recipes together with my sister and mother and father allowed us to develop those as new family rituals for the next generation. As an adult conceiving recipes of my own with people such as my fiancee allow for the ability to start a new set of traditions.
A recipe isn’t just a list of ingredients and instructions for combining them; it is a context for (re)creating a life experience. After all, cooking isn’t just the process of generating nourishment, it is truly a place of finding safety and developing self-worth. It transcends just what you do but the smells, textures, tastes, sounds and such that affect all the senses in an encompassing way to touch the soul at its most primal and yet most promiscuous tempting both the intellectual and the inspirational. Anyone that’s ever been in a survival situation has spoken to the same fire-side feeling we all seem to naturally feel when presented with the preparation and presentation of food over an open fire, the forebearer to the modern kitchen.