I essentially live in my kitchen. I share my apartment with a college friend, and in theory we share everything completely—it’s not like we have two containers of milk in the fridge, or two containers of pickles. We have fifteen containers of pickles actually, and they’re all shared. But I’ve never in my life lived in a house with housemates where the kitchen duties were equitably split up, because I’m too bossy to really ever let anyone in there with me. I tend to almost always be the one to do the cooking.
Just off the kitchen is the coolest room in the house: a fully glass-enclosed dining room with folding glass doors. Right now, the doors are closed and there’s a heater going, but in summer they open to the patio. There’s a huge table from an estate sale on Long Island that seats 14 comfortably, but I’ve uncomfortably seated 26—people were sharing chairs, some people were eating with just spoons, some with chopsticks.
Credit: Leela Cyd Ross
When I was living in California, this old, funny, curmudgeonly butcher started emailing me out of the blue with long missives about the dying art of butchery, and we became friends. He had this butcher-block table in his garage, and asked me if I knew anyone in the Bay Area who’d want it. I said that if I could find a way to get it rebuilt, I’d want it myself, and when I went down to visit him shortly before I left, he’d had it rebuilt for me. When I moved to New York I had almost nothing with me but this table, which rode along in the back of my truck.
Invariably, whatever kitchen situation I move into, there’s a terrible cutting board situation: these little unusable plastic things. But I feel like once I bring a wood one in, I’m back on comfortable ground—wood is such a great surface, it’s the perfect thing to cut on. I really don’t like seeing people with wood butcher countertops or tables who then put cutting boards down on top of the perfectly good cutting surface they already have.
Most of my favorite tools are very low-tech: wood, copper, heavy steel. I have a collection of terribly burned wooden spoons, three mortars and pestles, the butcher table, and this wooden ice chest that’s mine, or possibly my brother’s. My mom was getting rid of all the things we grew up with and my brother didn’t have room for the ice chest, so I’ve got it for now, and as far as I’m concerned possession is nine-tenths of the law. Currently it’s in use as my bar, but it’s fully insulated, you could use it as an ice chest if you wanted to.
Interview conducted and condensed by Helen Rosner
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