Kitchens are magical places, I mean think about your own kitchen and all of the things that happen there. Obviously there is the cooking, which if you ask me is the best kind of magic there is. Taking a bunch of ingredients and turning them into a delightful meal experience with different textures, flavors, and emotional connections would be enough, but then you add all the rest and it’s no wonder that kitchens are the focal point of many homes, because magic happens there.
Celebrations and Memorials
Our kitchen has always been the gathering place, for backpacks after school, holiday season gatherings to bake cookies, and even the end of the day recap with my husband. It never mattered where in the world we lived, the kitchen always had the same energy. The energy of family magic, holding space for the good, the bad, and the ugly of life where we could go to be loved.
Celebrations often landed in the kitchen. Small bits of happiness that somehow seemed more sweet when shared. Gathering at the table cluttered with ingredients for that night’s stew and it would carry over into the dinner hour with discussions of the future and laughter over the silly little events of the day. Big celebrations and small were always born in the kitchen; whether it was a birthday, the day the diploma arrived in the mail, or the announcement of a wedding or soon to be expanded family. Family magic happens in the kitchen.
Sad things happen in the kitchen too, and there were many. It always seems to be the place the old pup likes to lay for his final rest, the place we say good-bye before a long separation, or the place where the unthinkable becomes reality when we answer the call to news we didn’t expect. I still remember the last time I had to step over Duke our old shiba as I washed the evening dishes before he was lost to canine cancer.
No matter happy or sad, excited or nerve-wracking, the kitchen holds space for all of life’s events. It’s a magical container for the life that we live.
Deep Thoughts and Aha Moments
My oldest memories are of standing on a chair in the kitchen drawing doodles in the dog-eared cookbook while my mom was creating culinary magic. I couldn’t tell you what she would be cooking exactly because I was in my own little world with my thoughts and my doodles. I was simply happy to be in the space, taking in the energy, doing my own little thing while she worked along to some crooner on the radio.
To this day, if I need to have a little space for myself, I’ll break out that old cookbook, leaf through the tattered yellow pages and get lost in the simplicity of a chocolate cake or our family’s version of a beef stew. I don’t need the recipes anymore- I mean, I create recipes for a living, but sometimes I need the company of long-gone family while I work through my deep thoughts. That’s the magic that happens in the kitchen- recipe books hold memories just waiting to be unlocked.
Sometimes I’ll even pour into recipes and cooking techniques as a distraction from things that I just don’t have the brain-space for, and after a few hours and a two-page list of future meal plans later I’ll find that the thing I was fixated on just a few short hours ago, is now no big deal. Sometimes cinnamon rolls are born from an unbalanced budget, and many times a stressful day becomes the catalyst for a really kick-ass lasagna. If there is something that needs working through, I do it in the kitchen, because kitchen magic transforms worry into lasagna in the kitchen.
Nourishing and Nurturing
Of course, everyone knows that kitchens are where the food happens, but it’s so much more than that! In the kitchen we take piles of ingredients, somehow blend them together, and out comes life. Meal prepping lunch for the next day can feel like a chore, but what you’re really saying is “you mean enough for me to want to feed you and care for you.” We under-emphasize the importance of life giving sustenance that is breakfast. The simple act of spreading peanut butter on bread is actually giving a small bit of life- something we don’t think about because we’re too busy hating on gluten or counting calories.
Without food there is no job to go to every day, there is nothing to celebrate, and the day to day becomes very short lived. In the busy and hectic schedules of daily living we forget that food magic is what sustains life. By combining a bunch or random ingredients we are alchemizing life-giving nourishment. Yet, we resent having to make dinner or go grocery shopping- because we have forgotten that food is life- and where does that magic happen? In the kitchen.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what’s for dinner for the two hundred and twelfth time this year, remember that you’re actually creating magic in that chicken pot pie. Slow down, take a moment to say a little spell (or prayer) over that store bought crust and infuse a bit of your own magic.