The handle of our pink dishwasher has a long silver bar that spins around and around like a steering wheel, just at eye-level. A row of square silver buttons to the right promises flight and control. It hums and clanks, and gives off the comforting aroma of Cascade. I scoot a heavy wooden chair across the brown speckled linoleum, open lower cabinet doors on each side, close myself into the cockpit. I push button after button hard, and my fingers don’t seem strong enough, still, the rumbling shifts and starts; growling and gurgling steam warming my face from around its edges.
People say that a kitchen is the heart of the home. But I think it is also the head.
Sure, the warmth of the oven, the smells of good things bubbling and baking, the tug of good memories of conversations around a table are an umbilical cord to the past. Here nurturing happens. But in the act of nurturing, our brain grows, too. In my father’s kitchen, I learned why bread dough rises. In my mother’s kitchen I learned why onions caramelize. The heart, the head.
Oh, yes, and the hands. In my seventh kitchen (1015 Harrison), I almost sliced my finger off while chopping basil, and still have the dead nerve cells to prove it. But I also made semi-successful gnocchi for the first time in my fourth kitchen (555 1st North), awkwardly forming – with my fingers and a fork – sticky little dumplings into globby, messy balls that, nevertheless, rose to the top of the boiling pot when done and held a sauce well.