You should read this great article by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman – A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks.
As for me, thanks to not having much storage space or an unlimited amount of spending money (who does?), I’ve built up my modest kitchen collection slowly. As much as I would love to be seduced by name brands and houseware stores filled with tempting gadgets big and small, I’ve always asked myself “Do I really need this?” and “Where am I going to put it?”
It seems that the people I know fall into two broad categories. Those who get on with cooking, several times a week, no matter how basic their kitchen, and those who fantasize about becoming a fantastic cook – someday, when they get a huge kitchen, with six gas burners, a convection oven and a central island for prep. Oh, and a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer – the new status symbol for the kitchen.
One of my favourite, although slightly bitchy, things to do when I’ve been invited to the wedding of a mere acquaintance (can you smell the gift grab?) is pore over their registry. This is the place that, no doubt egged on by salivating housewares department salespeople, brides and grooms-to-be can really let loose. Fantasy replaces the reality of cooking, and nowhere else is this more evident, despite the actual level of cooking skill and ability of those on the receiving end.
On the other hand, some of the best home cooking I’ve ever eaten has been produced in the tiniest apartment kitchens. The cooks I’m thinking of have used every inch of space in their kitchen in the most efficient way possible. Calm, matter of fact and uncomplaining, they use their standard issue, apartment-sized electric stove, pots and pans picked up in Chinatown, and wash dishes in five minute bursts to make more room on their tiny counters.
I fall between those two categories. Procrastination can be incredibly irresistible if you feel the need to acquire all sorts of gadgets before committing to producing something creative – this can be true of photography, music, visual arts, as well as cooking. “I can’t make that Thai green curry until I have a food processor”. However, although my kitchen has received a slight upgrade over the years thanks to my slow but steady collection of kitchen stuff and renting a condo with all the modern conveniences rather than a crappy decades-old apartment, the amount of cooking I do has not changed at all.