This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "in the kitchen":
As a twenty-something enthusiastically rattling about the wilds of New York City, I treated my kitchen merely as a room which held another sink (in addition to the bathroom). I also stored cookbooks there, which I read with great passion yet from which I never cooked. The hearth of my petite urban abode remained a mausoleum to my lost art of preparing food. I had plenty of encouragement in my culinary neglect. My cousin residing on the city's Upper West Side had a stack of take-out menus which she affectionately referred to as her "recipes." A co-worker living on the Upper East Side used her oven to store her dry cleaning. Our trio wore our anti-cooking badges with honor. In the "city which doesn't eat at home," we were not alone.
Returning home late from work, or, more likely, returning home very late from being out with friends, I'd almost always grabbed something on the way there. ("So sorry, my Kitchen, I've already eaten!") Somewhere amongst the thousands of delicious and affordable restaurants and cafes Gotham offered me. Someplace more fun, where I could talk and laugh and people-watch and sample other lives and cultures, through both my eyes and palate. Someplace where I wasn't alone.
Cooking by myself in my kitchen made me feel lonely. As I wasn't a particularly good cook, I had no ability to whip up delicious meals to successfully entice an entire social life over to my pad. It was pasta and sauce, mac and cheese, beans and rice almost every night. I was unable to envision anything beyond beige carbs. Taking action in my kitchen made me feel like a failure.
So I headed to my hearths away from home to be fed, among them family pizza parlors in downtown Brooklyn, falafel hot-spots in Greenwich Village, and noodle shops with jade-green veggie dumplings in the East Village.
Let me stay in the East Village a moment: luscious berry smoothies with flax seed oil added for extra Omega 3s; all-I-could-eat, home-style, buffet Indian food complete with tabla and sitar players AND mango lassis; frite shops instantly dispensing fresh crisped potatoes; Bento boxes featuring incredibly edible sushi. Then I found something intriguing: a vegan restaurant which featured a community table. Total strangers were welcomed to take a meal, sit next to someone they probably didn't know, and see what happened. Sometimes talking and laughing happened. Often people read quietly to themselves as they ate, sitting next to other solitary reading people.
Those restaurants, run with so much care and passion, supported me as I grew into my full adulthood. Because many opened their kitchens to feed me and countless others, I was nourished, for as long as I needed, until I took a few cooking classes and began to nourish myself.
For more takes on "in the kitchen," click here.
Happy 1st Birthday, Sunday Scribblings!