The Maginot Line, Or, How To Defend Your Kitchen Core
misanthrope: a person who hates or distrusts humankind
I hesitate to admit this, but that sometimes describes me during a dinner party. Oh, we all start out with the best of intentions. Our shopping is all done ahead, ingredients are all ready, our mise is prepared, we may even have flowcharts and timing plans figured out - and then Things Go Wrong.
I read a book once about the military. How silly the rigid chain of command, rote drills, and massive redundancy seem to civilians. How much more efficient private business is, surely. But, said the writer, how would that lean, flexible, low-cost private enterprise cope when Things Go Wrong? When mortar salvos are landing in the secretarial pool, machine gun fire is ripping through the executive suite, airstrikes are pounding the just-in-time supply chain? Things Go Wrong.
No-one has machine-gunned my kitchen yet, unless you count verbal abuse, but when the scallops are scorching, the chard is wilting to mush, smoke is issuing from the broiler, and the sauce just broke . . . okay, it's not the fighting retreat from Chosin, the desperate street battles of Hue, or the doomed Charge of The Light Brigade, but it is definitely time for some martial law. Some triage. The wilted greens, they are past saving, but we can salvage the bavette and maybe the sauce, if we move fast.
Arrgh, what's this, wandering into my path? A small child, looking for a glass? A revered elder, questing for a teaspoon? A hearty guest, looking for a comfortable niche to park his wine-swilling rear? Kill them, kill them all, collateral damage be damned!
I've mentioned before, that my ideal kitchen would be in the basement, from where food can be sent up in a dumbwaiter. Just me, plenty of steel, and a few buddies who know the secret club password. We'll crank up The Clash, knock back single-malt, char meat with flame, and chant the club motto - No Girls No Girls No Girls! No, seriously. We're all too decrepit to let girls in the clubhouse. Ladies, now that is a different story. But I digress. And offend, no doubt.
My ideal kitchen is not going to be. SWMBO won't allow it. We must have a Pretty Kitchen. But I still want to find some way to defend the cook's space. Barring chainlink fence or strobe lights, how to do this?
The idea is, to have range, prep zone, and prep sink clustered tightly together in the core of the kitchen, and to have Absolutely Nothing There that anyone but the cook could possibly want to access. No glassware. No silverware. No beverages. No coffee maker. No plates, no snacks, no microwave, no teapot, no wine opener, no no no. Especially, no comfortable place to lean. Only pots, pans, knives, prep bowls, onions, sauces, burners, cutting board, spatulas, and raw food.
Everything else will live on the periphery, where appetizers are arranged, drinks are poured, rugrats spill soda and revered elders hold forth about their time in the frozen Chosin and similar long-ago days, clogging traffic and swilling wine.
Does this make sense? Anyone design a kitchen like this? A kitchen organized like an onion, in layers? Will it work? Should I just take a Valium?