I love my kitchen. Regardless of the day I’m having, if I can take time to brush down the work surfaces, get in front of the stove and rootle around in the cupboards, I’m transported to a happy place. Preparing food is one of my favourite ways to relax, to completely clear my mind and to be as simple or creative as I choose. Cooking is a joy and my kitchen allows that to happen.
Good for me, then, that I don’t have to share it. I don’t mean with my nearest and dearest – Carnivorous Boyfriend and I will happily cook together side by side (as far as space allows) – I mean the kind of shared kitchen of my university years; the endless piles of washing up, slightly scummy surfaces, disappearing pints of milk and a fridge full of other peoples’ long-forgotten leftovers. My cupboards may be fit to bursting and my ingredients organized in a haphazard way, but they’re mine; I know exactly where everything is and I like it that way.
When I was growing up, my parents shared their house in Italy with a family friend. We’d sometimes go on holiday all together but, more often than not, the friend (who didn’t have any children) would visit outside school holidays, meaning we’d sometimes arrive a long time after he’d left. Down one side of the cool, dark kitchen was an enormous wooden cupboard where we stored dry goods. As it could often be up to six months in between our visits, the contents tended to be stripped back to the bare basics; kilner jars of slightly damp salt and sugar, half a packet of leftover risotto rice, a handful of teabags, a tube of tomato purée.