Kitchen stories

The radio was on and veggies were in the skillet when a friend from the apartment upstairs stopped in to say hello tonight. Small talk about the cold turned to talk about our days, today’s January Series lecture, and news about the supreme court ruling on corporate political spending. It’s wonderful having neighbors who drop by to chat, and we invited her to stay for dinner. Three of us sat down to veggies in garlic pepper sauce over reheated rice. Saying grace, we asked for safety and blessings for our two flatmates who are working tonight and for a fifth who left for a semester off-campus yesterday. We were family.

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Back in Budapest on a Sunday afternoon. I had visited St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church and was invited to stay for lunch. Afterwards, a Canadian volunteer worker and I helped with dishes in the cupboard-sized kitchen. One of the church members, an Iranian named Ali, taught us the Hungarian words for things like forks and wash cloths as we washed and dried. I so appreciated that we were invited not only to eat but also to work, and so to become a part of the church community.

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As a very little kid at 1437 Louise, I would sit on the counter and watch my mom make supper. Right around 5:30, my dad got home from work and came into the kitchen to kiss her hello. This memory smells like onions frying and sounds like the theme music from All Things Considered, which was on 104.1 on the radio above me. I’d have to scoot over to the side of the counter so my dad could get plates out from the cupboard behind me for setting the table.

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I’ve realized I have stories like these from a dozen kitchens around the world, and as I sit now at my kitchen table, I’m struck by just how much life happens over a stove. In kitchens, many needs are met, and I’m grateful for all the sharing that’s happened in the one I’ve been using since the start of this month. If I had to choose between a bedroom and a kitchen, I would always take the kitchen.

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