Monday, August 20, 2012

goodbye, kitchen

Goodbye, kitchen.

Goodbye, countertops. You measure a little less than two feet across but were just wide enough. (Okay, not quite.)

Goodbye, pitifully small Modern Chef gas oven that produced slanted cakes, countless meals and on one occasion, stopped working right before a dinner party. Modern Chef, I wish I knew how old you were. At what point in time were you considered modern? How many meals have you cooked in your lifetime? You seem as permanent as our apartment’s crown molding and wood floors; an old fixture that should never be changed. Sorry, new tenants.
Goodbye stupid gap between the stove and the counter where many crumbs, dog kibbles and other random bits of food fell and disappeared forever.

Goodbye pesky nail in the floor that snags socks and stubs toes.

Goodbye shelves that held pint glasses and bowls and vases and cookbooks. How many times have I stood on tiptoe to grab the Joy of Cooking, afraid it would fall on my head and knock me out cold, causing me to stub my toe on the exposed nail on the way down?

Goodbye refrigerator covered in beloved magnets and photos that have moved from apartment to apartment. The William Wegman magnetized clipboard from my college dorm room, the photos of babies who are now toddlers, the group shots at weddings, all of us smiling and in one place. But most of all, I’ll miss you, grease-spattered snapshot of my parents’ dog chewing a toy. You always kept me company while I stood at the stove.
Goodbye refrigerator door, rigged with masking tape, barely holding on for dear life.

Goodbye creaky floorboards that announce everyone’s arrival before they are seen.

Goodbye mouse that peeks out from the stovetop burners, leaving little presents for us in the morning on the kitchen counter. I will not miss you rattling around in the dark, always pausing when we tiptoe into the kitchen with malice in our hearts. Have fun with your new housemates!


I cooked seven-plus years of meals in this narrow space, learning to clean as I go, to multitask, to prep in advance, to stack a cutting board atop a pot when things get crowded. Like a line cook’s station, my kitchen was compact yet organized. There might as well be a worn spot in the place where I stood for so many hours, chopping and stirring, always with an ear attuned to the living room when friends came over.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve complained about the railroad-style room, its worn appliances, lack of amenities. Old buildings have their retro charms, but they do not have dishwashers. And so, we’re packing up and moving a few blocks away to a new place with a brand new kitchen. I’m already thinking about my first party, the first thing I’ll cook on my virgin stove.

But I’m also thinking about Modern Chef and all the meals that came out of that hallway. The friends who congregated in our living room and where they are now, scattered all over the map. It’s funny that the most entertaining I may ever do in my life was in such a bare-bones place. 

It was a good run, old kitchen.


Benneseed said...

Surprising to hear that your kitchen was so old and grotty--you sure made the most of what you had! Post photos of the new one, 'cause we'll all be waiting to see it!

Alejandra said...

I love this post! I used to have a Modern Chef stove, too!! Your kitchen sounds so familiar to me. I have a bit more counter space and my landlady just replaced all our appliances, but before that, I spent four years with the crappy stove, the gap between the wall, the (ugh) mouse in the burners. I even have an exposed nail! (Though mine is in my bedroom by the door--the better to greet us each morning!). Congrats on the move!

Jennifer Teusch said...

Congrats on your new place! You did amazing things in that kitchen! Reading this reminds me of the days I'd put a bottle of soda in the fridge and it would roll to the other side. Best of luck on your move! So glad you're staying in the 'hood!

Margaret Pinard said...

Bahahahah- I can sympathize with both you and Alejandra: I have a crappy stove (without so much as a NAME), stovetop burner pans that don't fit the holes, a mouse who has come to call just as you described, and a string of exposed SCREWS between the tile of the kitchen and the wood of the rest of the apartment. Also, I bought a special piece of plastic at BBB to get rid of that gap. It was even Made In America.
But for parties, it magically transforms with love into a happy place. :)

Color Me Green said...

i know how you feel. my first adult kitchen was so small ( yet that's where i spent three years learning how to cook. there's always a way to make it work, but it's also nice to move on to bigger pastures. i am currently very happy to have a kitchen island!

Lisa said...

I love how this has become a support group for people with tiny/crappy kitchens! I guess we've all been there.

Thanks so much for your support. I'll be back to more posts once we're unpacked!

judy said...

You've made me all teary-eyed. Bye bye 2nd St.

Daniel said...

Very proud that the first photo catches the mysterious scorch mark/stain on our fridge. Ah, the memories.

Anonymous said...

Great post--loved the personal touches of spattered dinners past! the distant future, you may have a reoccurring dream of this charming space...Congratulations on the step up!

Nathan Hall said...

I had similar feelings when Juliette and I left our old house for the new place. You may recall how incredibly small that kitchen was but for some reason it always made me proud to be able to produce meals, from marvelous to mundane, out of it. Good luck with your new place and cheers to your new kitchen!

Lisa said...

Thank you, Nathan :)

Loving all these comments, everyone!

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Seven-plus years? Wow, please stop reminding me about the passage of time. And I DO need to tell you my mouse story - maybe over cocktails at the new place!

Lisa said...

Casey: YES! For sure.

Gracie Farmer said...

Looking through your old photos make me remember our old kitchen, same dilemmas as you are. Well, we decided to renovate our kitchen for the reason that it was old and we need a larger space in our kitchen.

Jamie Lowe said...

The Modern Chef stove seems like it served you big time. And I so feel for your ref, with the pictures all over the door! How was the move?

Fred Gottfried said...

I guess the change was all for the better, though. Sometimes old kitchens have to make way for the better fixtures to come in and do a better job.


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