I recently met two highly accomplished home cooks. They churned out the most amazing food from an eight-foot-long former hallway, now renovated into the kitchen of their small studio apartment. There was just enough room for each of them to stand, and they never had to move an inch—everything was within reach. The pair had spent three years traveling Europe in a camper van, so this tiny kitchen seemed lavish and spacious to them.
Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Nicole Spiridakis’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle about her brother’s bare-bones kitchen on a Greek island so much. “It’s pretty … basic,” he had warned her. “[W]hen I arrived, I realized he hadn’t been joking: His kitchen was little more than a sink, two-burner electric hot plate, minuscule refrigerator and a small folding table that served as the counter space.”
But, as I am coming to appreciate, one needs not a Viking range and spacious marble counters to create magic in the kitchen. Spiridakis was impressed by what her brother and his girlfriend produced with so little.
The couple had four plates, three bowls, seven glasses (three small and four large), one coffee cup and one espresso cup. None of it matched. They used the top of the refrigerator as a dual counter and storage space, and the small folding table, while a bit rickety, could serve four adults if they didn’t mind sitting close to each other. And yet, the food that came out of that tiny space was not only presentable, it was better than most of the taverna food I ate in the 10 days I was there.
I’d be happy to give up my well-stocked and spacious kitchen for a Greek island hideaway as well. At least for a little while.