Our kitchens have undergone a revolution in the last fifty years. The history of a kitchen is often personal but it also reflects each generation and changing fashions. We remember the laminated feel of our childhood kitchens, the linoleum which was often a stark contrast to our grandparents lean to, tacked on, flag floored, belching ranges through the night affair that they slaved over. With the coming of the microwave and the ubiquitous meals that you stabbed with a fork the term 'slaved over' faded. You couldn't really claim to have slaved over a microwave lasagne that was cooked in less time than it made to make a cup of tea. Even though the cuppa was far tastier and more nutritious than most of the microwave meals that poured out of the 1980s. We had a microwave up to three years ago, it almost ruined Christmas when Carol's Dad brought around his homemade Christmas pudding and the microwaveable dish it was on decided to have a moment of confidence and exploded in the microwave with all the special effects of a superhero film. By New Year the microwave was at the tip and we sat there and questioned what we used it for. It came down to two things, (a) making custard, and; (b) defrosting bread. In both incidences they came out somewhat cardboardy in taste and texture. We have never had one since and when we started to change the kitchen from a three roomed damp hole at the back of our home into something approximating a kitchen we started to uncover its secrets.
We found a chimney that went nowhere, and a bricked up hole the size of a range, large keystones jutting out of the walls and the remnants of a bread oven that had become merely a nook behind a cheese shelf. The bread oven was bricked up so we could get in a boiler and that reveals how we have all knocked around our kitchens. We have kept the cheese shelf though it won't be on show, it's too low down, people being so much shorter in the past (this is because they are faraway to us and that makes them very, very small, that and they lacked linoleum and laminate to make their feet warm thus allowing them to grow taller plus they didn't pump themselves full of hormones as we do everyday).
The cheese shelf will be hidden in a large cupboard that harks back to the larder that was once there. The stone will be used as a cold shelf but we so won't be reaching for the flatpack.
We do like old kitchens, the feel of them, the romance of them but we have cooked on a range and they do make you a slave to fashions too, and often they don't work out, they didn't for us. Kitchens have been a slave to passing fashions but we want ours to endure so we will be pulling in the modern and the old, we will recycle and hark back to kitchens that were not just the hub of the home but a functional space.