I feel bad about my kitchen

Much like Nora Ephron famously felt bad about her neck (and her purse), I feel bad about my kitchen (and my fridge).....


In the interest of full disclosure, I have a really crappy kitchen right now. We just returned to Grenoble after spending several months in Italy and we are faced with what I can only deem, a less than spectacular kitchen. I used to have a tricked out dream kitchen in a modern condo in Washington DC’s Logan Circle, but after meeting Giuseppe in Italy, falling in love with him, temporarily loosing my mind and moving to Europe (in that order), I now use a kitchen that can best be described as a dormitory galley with a hot plate and some really good wine.  I am comforted by the fact that this is only our 'temporary French kitchen', but here are the details:

There is no oven.  Although we do have a microwave from Carrefore that purports to have a convection oven setting. I wash all of my dishes by hand and set them on the pseudo balcony to dry. Now that the weather has turned quite frigid, we use the same faux balcony to chill our wine.  An old bench press serves as a sort of improvised pot rack (oh how I dream of that functional peg board that Paul created for Julia Child in their Boston kitchen).  I have exactly four ‘spices’: salt, pepper, oregano and nutmeg.  There is no pantry, but I do have a delicious and colorful set of pickles and preserves that we brought back from Giuseppe’s native Naples.  There is an electric grill that we perch on a flowerpot outside the kitchen window, otherwise it hotboxes our tiny studio with a lovely haze of carcinogenic chicken grease.  In other words, this kitchen is shite.  But more to the point, I love it!

I love it because, contrary to all logic, the food that comes out of it is more flavorful, more vibrant, more convivial, more economical and more fun than anything that came out of the kitchens that have preceded it on my little cooking journey.  There is chiefly one reason for that: I am at war with this kitchen.  

And that is why what follows aren't really just recipes, nor are they tales of redemption when food meets palate. What follows are cringe worthy tales of improvisation in a kitchen that kicks my ass regularly. In a kitchen that tersely responds, ‘deal with it’ when I shake my head plaintively wondering how to bake my pasta al forno when I don’t even have a fricking forno.  

All of this is really just meant as some twisted form of encouragement. If you too are at war with your kitchens, then hold on to your toques my friends because we’re going to make ragù, and more ragù and maybe even in homage to my good friend Kareem, some slow braised turkey tit. And at the very least, we'll have fun doing it, and smirk knowing that our kitchens are not the bosses of us.

Getting Sauced: Neapolitan Ragu