I believe in the power of the kitchen. Kitchens build community. Demonstrate love. Relieve tension. Facilitate friendships. Feed bellies.
A few years ago, I lived with a sweet southern gal named Melissa (better known to me as MNM). MNM’s a couple years older, married, and much more domestic than I was at the time. She knew how to cook shrimp jambalaya…I knew how to make shrimp-flavored Ramen. She had her spatulas gathered in a drawer…mine were melting on the stove. I needed some help and little did I know, she was about to teach me a heap about life with a dash of cooking on the side.
In our kitchen, my rightful place was sitting on the floor next to the fridge or up on the countertop observing MNM whip up something delicious. I’d ask questions, she’d patiently explain the process, or reasoning behind the method. She’d give me the sous chef tasks of frying up the hamburger or chopping vegetables, because that’s hard to screw up, and she’d throw spices together without measuring. (This, by the way, is the most frustrating part of cooking. We have recipes for a reason!) Anyway, a good chunk of our time together in the kitchen was spent people watching the students on campus and talking while we made dinner. We laughed and cried together. We ranted and solved the world’s problems. We sang, danced, and I twirled (Michelle Kwan style of course). All of this was done in a room purposed for food prep but it taught me so much more about myself, MNM, and life than I could have learned in any other space.
It started out as MNM and me making supper most nights of the week. As the semester progressed, it became more about getting to know each other and less about cooking lessons. We talked about everything from our childhood, families, and football (Go Bearcats!) to theology and infertility. Melissa and I had a rough semester dealing with personal hardships, but our time together in the kitchen helped us through it. It’s amazing the tension you can get out while chopping vegetables, mixing biscuit dough, or washing the dishes.
MNM and I have moved on and out of that house, but our friendship still remains as one near and dear to my heart. We worked through a lot, standing next to each other in that little blue and yellow kitchen. I am forever grateful for the recipes, wisdom, and memories we’ve shared.
Time spent in the kitchen brings people together. It’s a natural gathering place. There’s something incredibly special about creating delicious dishes from raw ingredients with friends. It allows people to serve up some love while also dishing out great tasting food. The kitchen has the beautiful power to feed people’s hearts, stomachs, and minds.
This I believe.
Posted by Hannah Zimmerman
Inspired by This I Believe: a public dialogue about belief – one essay at a time