My comfort zone. My safe place. My hideaway.
I won’t cry: I will make an Apple Cake.
I won’t bang my head against the wall; I will start chopping onions on a pretty green cutting board, following Jacques Pépin’s precise instructions, and caramelize them slowly in a little olive oil. (Do try them on a burger).
I will avoid dwelling on the past, refuse to be tortured by regrets, what could have been if I had gone through the other door, if I had been wise at nineteen, if I had listened to my mother, if I…
It is small, my kitchen. Counter space? Will twenty inches do? Yes, my friends! I can work in that little space just fine, spreading out to my sturdy wood kitchen table when I bake. You don’t need yards of polished granite to perform, I assure you. You don’t need recessed lights, stainless appliances, French copper pots hanging from strategically placed hooks on the ceiling.
Or the ISLAND.
I never had the ISLAND in my life and, believe it or not, I’m surviving.
Desire. And passion. With a touch of fury. All you really need to become an outstanding baker and cook. Not that I claim to be.
All I know is that when I am in the kitchen, I am okay. I will put on my apron du jour, command (mostly) reliable Alexa to play something (Yes, Latin Pop works wonders), pour a glass of something other than lemonade, and become Chef.
The apron, by the way, is important. I do have a little collection of them, since people who know me well gift them to me at times (and I go directly to the housewares department of TJ Maxx more often than not). You slip on that crisp apron and…you’re on!
Getting serious in the kitchen.
You need to be serious. And determined.
Serious because you love it. If you don’t, then make reservations.
The kitchen can heal you. You are broken, limp through your emotions, tremble secretly, swear never again, consider extreme options, then brush them aside. You are going to cook!
My trusty black GE gas range is awaiting instructions. It’s four burners, by the way, not restaurant-size, but then, I’m not running a restaurant. I clean it lovingly every evening, grateful for its reliability. Yes, the Sausages and broccoli di rape were cooked perfectly, the meat tender, golden and flavorful (but I did keep a watchful eye).
I will not (usually) slam doors. I will not drive aimlessly for two hours, boiling with anger, swearing revenge (at least, not for the whole two hours).
I will not book a flight to Paris with a credit card, shrugging whatever, had enough.
I will make a little gem of a flourless chocolate cake. I will place it carefully on an egg-yolk-yellow cake stand which will enhance its simple perfection: I will buy fresh heavy cream, whip it to cloudy softness, add a hint of pure vanilla.
I will glance around my tiny yellow kitchen, smile at the colorful stacked bowls on the shelves across from the fridge, allow my patched-up heart to skip a beat at the sight of my French baking pan collection (gathered through numerous years of baking passion), trace the sharp curves of my Bundt pans, imagining all the glorious pound cakes to come.
I will turn the ache into a tender tart filled with satin-smooth lemon curd.
I will drown the sadness by bathing bright-green basil leaves in cool water, then patting them dry for an absolutely magnificent Pesto.
The kitchen can save your life.
The kitchen is my kingdom.
(Here is the link to the recipe for the Flourless Chocolate Cake).