Monday, April 24, 2006
House hunting (an exercise which J and I are currently practicing daily) has proved to fuel an obsession of mine - other people's kitchens.
As a potential buyer one can only wistfully view cupboards from the outside and occasionally (oh heavenly joy) be permitted a snatched glimpse into the secret world of what lies within. I hold my breath as the fridge door clicks, the light leaps into action and one has to blink quickly to take in the sight of a half-empty bottle of Chablis, a pat of butter and if they are people worth purchasing from, a quality jar of marmalade (doubtless J might disagree on this point).
However my real fascination comes into play when we are fortunate enough to stay with friends and family. No matter how hard I try I simply cannot withhold the urge, indeed the compulsion, to poke into pantries, leaf through larders and to foray into fridges. Due to the fact that I naturally wake up earlier than most sensible adults, these gastronomic expeditions are habitually performed in the early hours as the sun is yawning and stretching its rays, and in silence, not wishing to disturb the slumber of my hosts.
And what fuels this weird obsession? I can only attribute it to a curiosity to unearth an insight into the characters whom are our friends and family. What hidden passions are concealed at the back of a shelf, behind the inevitable collection of tins, packets and jars of sauces? To what extent does the opinion of what substantiates a 'staple' vary from one household to another?
There was a time when I could lay a bet that the sole contents of my eldest sister and brother-in-law's fridge would be champagne, Miller lager, orange juice and margarine. One child later and number two well on the way, it is like opening the fridge door to another world - organic milk, organic veggies, freshly cooked meals for my nephew, salads - a transformation, not only of consumables but also of lifestyle.
And what are the staples of our little household? We are rarely without lemons, apples, goats milk, dark chocolate, apple and ginger tea, salad leaves, walnuts, parma ham, yogurts, ketchup, fresh pasta, brandy and wine. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions as to which of us eats which foodstuff and what (if anything) that reveals about our life.
Oh and one last thing. Please don't take offence at the thought of me having nosed in your cupboards. It may sound peculiar, but if I wasn't interested in you and didn't care about you then then your larder would remain untouched. Consider it a rather strange sign of affection, albeit a secret one.