Friday, September 14, 2012

An open kitchen

As a cook, I suffer from a severe dichotomy.  One part of me loves cooking, and the other part hates to spend too much time in the kitchen.  So I am always looking for shortcuts and quick-fixes so that I can get the tastiest and healthiest food ready in the least possible time.  I feel particularly bad when I feel I am missing out on family time.  In the house we lived in previously, it kept coming to my mind that an open kitchen would solve this problem.

On our house-hunt, when we looked at this apartment that we ended up buying, we liked it because it fulfilled a majority of our requirements in all respects.  But we knew that the apartment would require some major rework for it to suit our needs.  The greatest problem was with the kitchen and the store room, and we found that the simplest and logical solution to make it airy and spacious was to break open some walls, combine the kitchen and the store room space and make it a wide open kitchen.

So, a lot, and I mean a lot of work later, the kitchen has been modified to suit me, and the best part of it is, yes, it is an open kitchen.  It integrates seamlessly into the drawing room and dining room, creating the sense of a lot of space.

So this open kitchen has made such a difference to our lives, that I just had to write about it.  A major problem in the previous kitchen was that when I was in the kitchen, Puttachi would clamour for my attention, if not for anything, just for me to hear her talk or watch her draw, or be with her when she ate.  Even if I pulled a chair inside the kitchen for her, it was a little congested, and there were only a few things she could do in there. 

Now, with this kitchen, complete with a kitchen table, Puttachi sits at the table when I cook.  She talks to me, she eats, and she reads or draws or does whatever she wants to - I am happy because I can be with her, and yet get my cooking done, and she is happy that I don't have to keep running away into the kitchen.   Such a great set up.

The other advantages are all secondary, though they are important too.  When there are guests, I don't feel cut off if I am finishing up something in the kitchen, or if I have chosen a menu which needs me to linger in the kitchen.  And guests also feel free to enter the kitchen and sit at the kitchen table - because the  kitchen is no longer a separate space which is out of bounds.  It makes things more comfortable and informal.

And in general, I feel more connected with the happenings around the house even if nobody is in the kitchen with me.  And this open kitchen has kind of made the kitchen a central part of the house.  We also have our meals at the kitchen table. 

Another associated advantage is that when I finish my meal first, and Puttachi is stil eating, I can rise from the table and start clearing up without making Puttachi complain that I am "abandoning" her.  So by the time Puttachi's meal is done, the kitchen is wound up too!  What joy :)

Of course there are negatives too.  You are forced to keep the kitchen neat and tidy all the time in case of surprise visitors (which is actaully a good thing for messy and lazy cooks like me.) 

You cannot steal a quick bite if there are visitors sitting in the drawing room. :)

And the smell of course.  A good chimney is a necessity for an open kitchen, is what I feel, to contain the smells of cooking.

Another disadvantage is that you cannot hold back the sounds of the kitchen within - for example, clanging of steel vessels, and the whirr of the mixer.  

And I am sure I'll discover more disadvantages (and advantages) as the years go by... but yet, I really feel that these disadvantages are minor when compared to the change in lifestyle that an open kitchen has given me. 

Yes, open kitchens are not very popular in our culture, because traditionally, cooking is a private affair, and the kitchen is a sacrosanct place.  Also, some people are just not comfortable with it, and I can totally understand that feeling. 

But I wanted to share my experience with you, because if you have the temperament and the opportunity, do go in for an open kitchen - it is such a life-changer!


Anonymous said...

That sounds lovely, and you have me dreaming about my moms kitchen, which has that little table within, where I have grown up reading/writing/eating/drawing while she cooked..And consequently, I know that when I have my own kitchen, it will be an open one..

austere said...

This CLAMOURS for pictures!

Radhika said...

Good one. Please do post a photo Shruthi.

Rajnish said...

good post.

CC said...

Messy and lazy cook?!?! NOT! And yes, we absolutely loved your kitchen and the dishes that came out of it :)

Brinda said...

Is that so, CC ? I have yet to experience this. That is, to see her new kitchen, and to taste the dishes that come out of the NEW kitchen ;)

larukalai said...

Thanks to share such nice information.

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Anonymous said...

They say that Indians cook and eat in private [with caste barriers and "drishTi" fears]but defecate in public.

Shanky Jindal said...

This is really interesting…

Shruthi said...

haathitime, my introduction to the kitchen table came from your house. I was so fascinated.

Austere, Radhika,will mail you the pics :)

Rajnish, thanks!

CC, thank you :) Messy and lazy, yes. I was just being extra clean around you heh heh :)

Amma, I can't wait either!

Anon, yeah that is so true, and quite unfortunate.

Anisha Jayadevan said...


Stumbled across your blog when I was looking up how I could identify trees. :)

I love how you write.

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