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hakuna frittata

A German Kitchen 
Jul. 23, 2012 2:43 am 
Updated: Jul. 25, 2012 10:35 am
Rather than the embankment-around-an-island species that's typical in the U.S., the German kitchen is more like the shoreline around a lake. Otherwise, the German--juxtaposed with American--kitchen is not particularly distinctive. On one shelf of the overhead cabinets are glasses, on another mugs, on a third plates and bowls, then wine glasses, then beer glasses (granted, "Maßkrüge"--what people drink from at Oktoberfest--are abnormally large beer glasses for American standards); pots and pans are cleverly stowed away somewhere (my friend's kitchen has an ingenious storage cabinet that I call "the Batmobile" because it unfolds just as impressively as the doors of Batman's car); silverware is organized into its respective families in one of the upper drawers; the wooden spoons, whisk, ladle, and spatula are all accounted for on a bar above or in a vase next to the stove--probably close to an assortment of oils and vinegars; under the sink dwell either cleaning tools or the garbage; the fridge is stocked with basic animal-byproducts, veggies, jam, ketchup, tofu, and Tupperware with leftovers; a spice-rack with Italian seasoning, pepper, salt, basil, oregano, thyme, curry, basil, cardamom; a pantry with pasta, flour, sweets, canned goods, snacks, honey, cereal, tea, coffee beans... The appliances usually include a refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, espresso or coffee machine, kitchen scale, Kitchen Aid (very popular yet pricey in Germany), toaster, perhaps an automatic bread-slicer, a microwave (though not as frequently as in the States), and a little device to carbonate tapwater, and a hand-held blender.

Also housed in the kitchen is the home-owner's very efficient recycling system. My sister and brother-in-law, for instance, have a silver bag for metals, a yellow bag for glass, a green bag for plastic, and a blue bag for paper as well as a bowl for compost that they empty regularly; and my friend's WG ("Wohngemeinschaft," an apartment shared by students/friends), which doesn't have too large a kitchen to boast of, has a separate container for each recyclable material under the sink. Recycling here, for the most part, goes without saying, even in the U-Bahn stations. 
How time is spent in the kitchen depends on whether or not it includes a table. Houses usually have a dining room but also enough room in the kitchen for a smaller table, where families eat the more mundane breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, or get their daily cappuccino fix in between. Regardless of the presence of a table, however, the kitchen is of great importance in any home. It witnesses how we return to our ancestral dawn through the instinctual allure of food. It's where the family gathers to cook, gossip, make jam, bake for special occasions, quickly satiate grumbling tummies after a long day in the office or school, pass along old traditions to young generations... 

Cooking and baking are creative processes--a bit like carpentry in that they wed practicality with art. When friends or family members assemble to cook/bake/grill, everyone contributes to the development of a shared memory. But of course the kitchen can also serve as a zen garden for the individual: cooking as a solitary activity to decompress and self-reflect. Whether accommodating only one person or buzzing with many people, the kitchen is a place of "Geborgenheit," a feeling of security and comfort and home. 
My sister and brother-in-law's kitchen: #1
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The kitchen in my friend's "WG"
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My brother-in-law's sister's kitchen...
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...and her spinning pot/pan storage system
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Jul. 23, 2012 6:18 am
Interesting! Thanks.
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Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA
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Munich, Bayern, Germany

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May 2012

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About Me
Born in Princeton, NJ, and from a German family, I spent my lovely 90s childhood (Velcro sneakers and Spice Girls, how I miss you) in America, Germany, and England. And now, I'm at Connecticut College as a philosophy and French double major and psychology minor. My go-to motto is Pascal's "the heart has reasons of which Reason knows nothing" and I love Proust's beautiful description of madeleines. My dream is to gain enough culinary experience over the coming years to open up my own little pâtisserie someday.
My favorite things to cook
Baked goods! Also, on Sunday afternoons, I make myself an outrageously foamy cappuccino, and experiment with different omelette variations. My favorite dishes to cook differ from one day to the next, but I recently became a fan of semolina durum spaghetti tossed in a pan with sautéed sage and red bell-peppers, garlic, a smidgen of lemon, and various spices, and sprinkled afterwards with roasted sunflower seeds, goat cheese, chive flower petals, and salt and pepper. yummy.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom always makes a scrumptious bread-pudding for Christmas; my dad whips up a rice dish that's so unique the family refers to it as his "papa reis," and banana flambé each time his best friend visits us; my sister creates beautiful marzipan-covered cakes for our birthdays; my brother-in-law bakes his own baguettes every weekend and Spätzle from scratch whenever we stay with them in Munich; and I make a lox brunch every Mother's Day. A family of food enthusiasts, we also have many day-to-day culinary traditions that I love.
My cooking triumphs
I was really happy when the crèmes brûlées and Tunisian almond cigars I once brought to a party as a little snack for my friends were devoured within minutes. And last week, a three-day long process of baking a Frankfurter Kranz paid off when my little nephew, Simon, insisted on having Tante Norah Cake for a whole week.
My cooking tragedies
There are certainly dozens of kitchen tragedies to my name, but one I remember in particular is an attempted Charlotte Royale that I ruined right off the bat by leaving the batter in the oven for too long (silly silly). But this summer, same player shoots again. I'm going to stand in the kitchen rain or shine until there's a handsome Charlotte Royale dome in my midst.
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