I love watching British programs about houses. Especially houses in the country. A couple is wanting a move to a rural, quieter life, and think the country can offer it to them. To keep chickens, and grow their own produce.
Well, we’ve gone through the same process, and viewing homes is a secret passion of me.
All these couples are different in what they desire. Big houses, small houses, quiet, or in a village. All different. Except for one wish: they all want a country kitchen. For entertaining, you see. They like to entertain, and therefore they would like a country kitchen. You can visualise them, Nigella Lawson style, stirring their pots, while the guests sip white wine from elegant glasses, leaning against the counter.
What is a country kitchen, I have wondered? Having followed the program for quite some time, I think I know now: a country kitchen is sizable, with lots of cabinets, a butler sink (a must), an Aga range cooker (a desirable) and possible a cooking island. A cooking island! How country is that??!! Robinson Crusoe rescuing the culinary shipwrecks!
Well, our house in the country does not have a country kitchen. It has a small kitchen, that we have made more efficient, I will admit to that. And next to it, separated from it by a counter (sorry, almost an island, but not quite), is our dining room. Equally small.
It is the way farmhouses were built. Only the very big houses had big kitchens for their personnel. One friend of ours, who lives in a magnificent farmhouse has a big kitchen, with a huge fireplace and a table in the middle. But her cooking is done in the alcove under the stairway, on a gas range with 2 burners. The table is the workplace for chopping and kneading dough, and all other chores.
She turns out the most wonderful dinners. She cooks in the kitchen and entertains in the living room and the formal dining room. That is country living!
So what of the country kitchens in the program? Sorry, all fake. Nostalgic humbug for a time that never was, except in our imagination.
And a final question remains: can these people cook like my friend?