Discussion

Tea Towels and Waffles

Quote

 

My kitchen may not mirror my soul, as Jane Kramer says, but it does reflect my tastes and quirks. Though I’ve always dreamed of a white kitchen like the ones you see in decorating magazines, all slick and marble and clean, I am not expecting that to materialize any time soon. But my kitchen is fairly new—part of a whole-house renovation three years ago that left me with a gray cabinets and turquoise subway tile. The exposed ceiling reminds me of the house’s 1925 bones, still strong we hope.  There is so little space in old houses, and we feel the squeeze with no upper cabinets and a piece of furniture-turned-pantry. Dishes must nest together, glasses are stacked, utensils spill between drawers, and there’s no room for anything extra—no break maker or standing mixer, no juicer or fancy coffee pot. But then again, I hate the taste of coffee. A small French Press for guests rests on the countertop between the toaster and the flour bin. When the pandemic first struck in March, I reorganized my spices. I bought two racks on Amazon and finally alphabetized my spices and placed them right next to the oven. This changed my life. After a year, the order has become a bit jumbled, and there’s usually a thin veneer of salt on the countertop.  My white electric kettle, tea canister, and extra box of Yorkshire Gold perched on the windowsill suggest a penchant for tea, a last attempt to cling to my British roots.   When I remember, I water my herbs—basil, mint, and oregano. Recipes peek out from a binder--there's never enough room to contain the meals and the memories.  Tea towels hang on the oven and dishwasher, reminding me of places I’ve been or gifts I’ve been given. Tea towels are a tradition in my family. Wherever you travel, you must buy a tea towel. Well, several really, because you must bring them back as gifts for everyone left behind. So my collection of tea towels does much more than dry the dishes; it sparks memories of adventures away from home, back in those pre-Covid times when leaving my kitchen happened more often.  When my daughter returns from school, in a better mood than when she left mad at herself for oversleeping, she plunks down on the purple stool at the kitchen island and spills out her day, a pot boiling over. I slide Eggo waffles with butter no syrup across the counter. She gobbles and chatters. I listen and hold on to this moment in my kitchen. To an outsider, my kitchen looks like nothing more than a collection of stuff crammed close on the countertops. Dishes dry in the sink, a new roll of saran wrap waits to be wedged in the drawer, and a half-eaten bowl of chips lies forgotten. But my kitchen is home to the handwritten recipes left behind by my mom and grandmother. It's home to tea that calms and connects.  It’s home to the towels of our travels. And it’s home to breakfast in the afternoon.

Quote

This is a beautiful piece of writing. I love how you were able to go into so much detail and explain how certain items portray certain aspects of your life. I especially enjoyed the part about tea connecting to your British roots and your family tradition of tea towels. I also think it was great that you were able to make the connection that kitchens aren't really about the material items in them but the memories created.