Unless you live in a “villa” here in Beijing, chances are your apartment kitchen was an afterthought for the “interior designer” and probably the “architect” too. Kitchens in apartments tend to be small, cramped, dark work spaces where the ayi will be working anyway, so why bother making them look nice, or functional, or even install enough lighting so a person can see what they are doing? But I digress.
After we moved into our flat, a friend and I did some modifications and managed to make our kitchen cleaner, brighter, and more functional, but unfortunately more cramped than it already was. Still, for one person it is a comfortable food preparation area. For two, you need to dance a bit to stay out of each other’s way, and if a third enters, you need to kick somebody out.
It is this lack of space that makes things challenging for the expat gourmet chef in the family. Hand our ayi a pot, a frying pan, and a wok, and she is good to go. Okay, the microwave and the hot water kettle are appreciated too. Not so for our nameless master chef.
Although our mystery cook has long given up on the idea of a full-sized oven and having a stove with more than two burners, she does appreciate having a variety of different pots and pans and a few extra appliances. I’ll admit that the toaster and the air pop popcorn popper were my ideas, and I can see the benefit of the food processor, but lately some less common devices have found their way into our burgeoning kitchen.
Several times a year, my wife is given a short list of things to choose from as a kind of office perk. Unfortunately, cash is never one of the options. Inevitably she settles on the kitchen-related gifts since they are always things we probably wouldn’t buy otherwise, but might actually use. The set of kitchen knives seemed sensible and we put the food storage containers to good use, but the appliances are trying my ability to stow things out of the way.
When the pressure cooker came, I just left it on the floor for months. It didn’t fit under any of the counters, not that there was room there anyway. Two weeks ago, an air fryer was delivered to our door and then I had two things in the way. I finally tossed out some anemic houseplants to make way for the devices that remain boxed for stackability.
Still, I cannot complain, as occasionally I am the recipient of the gastronomical creations that come out of these devices. That said, I did draw the line on the electric sandwich grill. If I cannot benefit from the thing since I’m “enjoying” a gluten-free lifestyle, no one else can. I’m content to just grill everything the old fashioned way. I just need to extricate the ayi from the kitchen so I can reach a frying pan. Thursday is grilled-cheese night. You are welcome to join us. Please, just stay out of the kitchen.
Photo: LizMarie_AK (flickr)