The Kitchen

“The kitchen is the part of the house that can tell the most things about you; whether you cook or not (one would say yes, if not every day, at least fairly regularly), whether only for yourself or also for others (often only for yourself, but with care, as if you were cooking also for others; but nonchalantly, as if you were cooking only for yourself), whether you tend toward the bare minimum or toward gastronomy (your purchases and gadgets suggest elaborate and fanciful recipes, at least in your intentions; you may not necessarily be greedy, but the idea of a couple of fried eggs for supper would probably depress you), whether standing over the stove represents for you a painful necessity or also a pleasure (the tiny kitchen is equipped and arranged in such a way that you can move practically and without too much effort trying not to linger there too long but also being able to stay there without reluctance). The appliances are in their place, useful animals whose merits must be remembered, though without devoting special worship to them. Among the utensils a certain aesthetic tendency is noticeable (a panoply of half-moon choppers, in decreasing sizes, when one would be enough), but in general the decorative elements are also serviceable objects, with few concessions to prettiness. The provisions can tell us something about you: an assortment of herbs, some naturally in regular use, others that seem to be there to complete a collection; the same can be said of the mustards; but it is especially the ropes of garlic hung within reach that suggest a relationship with food not careless or generic. A glance into the refrigerator allows other valuable data to be gathered: in the egg slots only one egg remains; of lemons there is only a half and that half-dried; in other words, in basic supplies a certain neglect is noted. On the other hand, there is chestnut puree, black olives, a little jar of salsify or horseradish: it is clear that when shopping you succumb to the lure of the goods on display and don’t bear in mind what is lacking at home.
Observing your kitchen, therefore, can create a picture of you as an extroverted, clear-sighted woman, sensual and methodical; you make your practical sense serve your imagination. Could a man fall in love with you, just seeing your kitchen? Who knows? Perhaps the Reader, who was already favorably disposed.”

From Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller.

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