Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kitchen cupboards are the windows... a person's soul? Forget that old adage about eyes.

Now while I do put stake in, and hold onto the belief, that truth is revealed at the unveiling, at the curious peering into draped rooms opened between lashes, it is also true that you really can tell a lot about a person by their kitchen. For starters, do they use it? Do dishes drip-dry sink side on the counter; or, do styrofoam take-outs get thoughtlessly trashed. Are cupboards stocked, goods bought in bulk when on sale? Or do they show smatterings of what is wanted, when it is wanted...price is no determining factor. The newest craving is the flavor of the day. What was planned, prepared, cooked and ready? Boring...that can wait.

So go ahead. Please. Judge me. Open the doors. Look through my cupboards...

And...tell me what you see.

Contents may be disheveled, dusty, and there might even be some black rice mouse droppings in the especially dark and out of the way back corners which take actually crawling inside on hands and knees to reach (yes, I can fit inside my cupboards; and yes, I have tried) -- those places are too deep, too dark, too nuanced. Really though, it just takes the willingness to get yourself a little dirty -- to work at reaching, and to stretch past where you thought you could. Even when it starts to hurt. Elbow grease, you works on more than just car chrome. And there are interesting things to be discoverred, in these dim worlds where shadows dance. Things forgotten, for a season or maybe even years. Or, something never known, never missed...until it was found.

I like putting things in glass jars. Perhaps, this is indicative of a poor memory? In which container did I put the buckwheat groats? The last bit of cheese? Where is the leftover mushroom pilaf? I have the habit of putting leftovers, or half an onion or fennel bulb into an old yogurt container, and then forgetting about it. For months. In the back of the fridge, it's useful time ticks. I find the shriveled remnants like unearthing a grave -- exhuming vegetable fibers still clinging to a skeletal frond.

That was once something...

I always feel guilty, for forgetting...

I go through a lot of honey. And, as I choose my wines by the label, I choose my honey by the jar. Every week or so (I told you I use a lot of honey), my fingers thread the last sweetness from the opening, and then warm water washes the crystalline coating, and loosens the glued label. Some of these jars get reincarnated as watering cans, some sprout plant cuttings, some hold paint-brushes or stain, and some are filled with leftover soup to be sent home with a friend.

I like these jars. I like looking at the shelf filled with these old honey masons, and I empathetically take in their emptiness; and also, their possibilities...they fill, in my mind. I wonder to myself if this fascination with seeing in, also decorates my windows curtainless...

naked... is my life, behind glassed walls, and with glass jars. Look. Dare. You can see what is inside, even when it is just dry grains...waiting for water.


  1. Pantries tell the truth and inspire the same sort of imagination as libraries…and old fishing vests. I get caught snooping in all of the above… Also, now feel a bit embarrassed and ashamed of my own cupboards… (at least my fishing vest might provoke jealousy!) I love the photos. Rows of dry goods…in jars. Taps into some old primal feeling of security…food for the winter. The origins of hoarding. Not twelve-hundred NASCAR ornamental collector plates from years of late-night info-mercials…the GOOD stuff! I carry your stories around with me as though they were large Mason jars of soup (sent along from a friend). And ration bowls out to myself as if I were a pessimistic deck hand.

  2. Yes I have often read a new acquaintance like a book while standing in their kitchen. Is everything in its place, can a crumb be found, a dirty dishrag, a few unwashed items in the sink, sparkling mason jars in the drying rack? Or is it too organized, sterile? I know I have found a friend when the kitchen welcomes me in its own silent language and I look forward to the cups of coffee that will be shared both now and in the future.

    I recently cleaned my upper cupboards on our gluten free side of the kitchen only to find GF items unopened and expired back in 2007. They went right to the trash and were not even offered as fodder for the two big yellow dogs who seemed to be watching my every move. We started a "Grandpa Joe" grocery store in our basement to store up for a rainy day or maybe even a government/terrorist crisis. You know a Silly Yak must be more prepared than the average citizen.

    I made potage soup this evening added portabella mushrooms to the mix and filled three mason jars to the brim with the leftovers. Tucked them in the refrigerator knowing I easily had a weeks worth of lunches for the coming busy week. It brings one peace of mind to know they are there waiting to be savored and enjoyed once more.

    I started re- purposing jars a few years back when I was trying to rid myself of toxic plastics. I remember much later reading an article written by two young yuppie women who said they had a fabulous idea to use jars it is so green. Well I have news for them. I was green before green was in and before they were born. Bazinga!