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The Kitchen

( Originally Published 1916 )

IF I ever get money enough to build a house of my own the first thing I shall construct will be the kitchen.

The kitchen is to the home what the stomach is to the body. The Greeks used to think the soul was located in the stomach, and it wasn't a bad guess. Certain it is that you cannot see much glory in the universe while you have any kind of a stomachache.

My kitchen will be five things : big, light, clean, well equipped, and comfortable to loaf in.

To begin with the last, I do not see why a man who owns a house should be excluded from an essential part of it. Why should I be condemned to sit always in the front room surrounded by uncomfortable furniture, slippery floors, and fragile bric-a-brac, while the hired girl enjoys a neat, homey kitchen?

When I feel like it I want to occupy a cane rocker by the window, look around upon shining brass stewpans, and read in the recipe book how to make ginger cookies.

And then the sounds of the kitchen. They are more intimately lovely than any other house-70

voices. First and foremost the song of the tea kettle: it just sings home and mother and solid comfort right into the core of your everlasting soul. Then the roar of the fire in the stove, the bubbling of the pot where the potatoes are boiling, the angry sputter of ham frying, and above all the solemn tick-tock of the old clock, beating time like an orchestra leader over the whole performance.

Also come the odors of the kitchen; the fragrance of bread just out of the oven, of the fowl done to a turn, filling the air with an aroma beyond that of flowers, and, Lord bless us all ! if that isn't a real pumpkin pie the cook has just delivered into the world! It is an event that should be celebrated with cheer and song.

The eye feasts likewise. I want a floor of old-fashioned red brick on my kitchen floor; in all the realm of art no color is so rich. I want the copper utensils to gleam like burnished shields upon the shelf. I want to see the flash of the Sabatier knives in a row on the wall, weapons in the noble war of gastronomy. I want to see the old Delft-blue bowls and brown cooking vessels round about. Besides, there are the whiteness of white flour on the biscuit board, the spark-ling heaps of sugar, the rosy-cheekedness of apples, the orangeness of oranges, and the grapeness of grapes.

There is no place where you can feel so human as in the kitchen. When you are tired of being respectable, and your soul is sick of good clothes, oh, to come aside a while here, in slippers and shirt-sleeves, and in the cane rocker aforesaid read in peace in your daily paper all the antics of this mountebank world !

And then-best of all the little boy comes in, you know what he wants, and although it is against the rules, you steal for him two Jonathan apples and three sugar cookies; he beams undying love at you, and skips out before mother sees him, while you, partner in such delicious crime, read your paper as if nothing had happened.



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