and the warmth of the kitchen
November 9, 2010
I’ve been listening to the American group Colcannon, and in the wistful song Bermuda Line I found a great phrase – and the warmth of the kitchen with all the outside dark. The more I played the song, the more I kept seeing all the various kitchens I’ve known. For me, kitchens are safe places, places of great memories. I’ve grown up, laughed and cried in kitchens.
I think back to childhood and our kitchen in Aprigliano and all the fun I had in that room. It was big, at least in memory, and in one corner was my bed. What joy to sleep in the kitchen. Its window framed the mountain slope on the other side of the valley. The mountains were where the brigands lived – oooh! But they couldn’t get me in our kitchen. It’s the place where I picture my dad making Sunday dinner. It’s where my mom set up the brazier in the winter. Its circular, wooden frame was my race-track for hours.
I could sit in the huge fireplace and eat my dinner. One night I sat there and flicked fava beans into the ashes. (I hated fava beans.) When the first one disappeared, I believed I had found the promised land – free, free of fava beans. My stay in heaven was short lived. The next morning, my mom told me she had found the favas in the ashes.
On January 5, I hung my stocking on the fireplace hoping the befana would bring me torrone and toys and praying that she would not bring me coal. After all, I was a good boy. That particular year, the befana did not agree with my self-assessment and there were lumps of coal in my stoking. I was mad. Fifty years later, my mom and dad still remind me about the year the befana brought me coal.
The image on the left is my first kitchen-picture. It’s my kitchen here in Pittsburgh. The espresso makers are all from Italy. (No electric espresso machine for me.) I love making espresso on week-ends. It’s 5:00 in the morning; the dogs and I are in the warm kitchen; they wait for some banana; I grind the beans; decide which espresso maker to use; fill the bowl to heaping, because I like my espresso strong; next I make toast then sit and read the New York Times – heaven.
I’m going to start shooting kitchens – my parents’ many kitchens, Rose’s kitchens, Mary’s kitchen, Connie’s cottage kitchen, Dave and Isabel’s luxurious kitchen, my friends’ kitchens, . . . any kitchen I can get into.