Cooking in my kitchen

Cooking in my kitchen

By
Trine Hahnemann
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849498593
Photographer
Columbus Leth

I never dreamt of being a cook. More than anything I wanted to be a mother, and as a profession I sought to be a writer. I enjoyed cooking, and have done so all my life, like I love to eat. But cooking kind of chose me. I’ve been good at it since childhood. I can taste; I can smell. From early childhood, I knew seasons and produce. I never questioned why we only have strawberries in July; I knew because I saw where they grew, and picked them. I tasted the lovely little juicy things right off the plant. That was a sensation every summer. In my memory, it seems like I was excited by every meal.

I have always existed in the creative zone between words and craftsmanship. If I look back, I can see that in the kitchen I was sure of myself. I moved around with confidence, even as a young person when nothing around me made much sense. Love and relationships were awkward, my parents were not present, studying was hard, just surviving seemed hard work, and there was no manual to it all. The kitchen was where all that anxiety disappeared and I became a person who knew what I wanted, and what the food should taste like in the end. I understood that cooking was a small journey each time, and I could figure out most of the time where it would lead me. Mistakes did not put me off; they encouraged me. I was never, ever interested in anything else than the daily meals.

I did not realize cooking could be a way to make a living, and I probably never will even though I have lived by it for more than 20 years. I am always on my way to the real things I was going to do eventually. While I still debate this, I enter my kitchen, I boil water, I grind coffee beans and fill my coffee pot, I light the candles on my dining table, turn on the radio, open the cupboard next to the stove and take my apron out; I hate cooking without an apron, I feel naked. Every time I go through that ritual, I feel things will be all right.

I designed my kitchen, and I wanted an open space, a place where everything was fitted around who I am, instead of me being forced to fit into my kitchen. I am a chaotic person in a structured way – I do not close cupboard doors, I keep stacks of china and a range of teacups; my pots and pans only fit if put back in place in a certain way.

I hoard: I am afraid not to have everything all the time. I call it “supply angst”. So I need space and a long, wide kitchen table where stuff can pile up, but where there will still be space for me to work while surrounded by the things I have collected.

I always start my day in my kitchen. Before I get dressed, I walk downstairs and make tea. I have a teacup for morning tea, a coffee cup for any mood I may be in, a teacup for the evening, and cups for guests. I have six white, bone china cups; cooking in my kitchen 175 my husband drinks everything out of them. I enjoy drinking from the right cup; it is never just a cup. The only real ritual or routine I have is that I get up in the morning and make English breakfast tea. I drink out of a big teacup with roses. When I travel, that is the only thing I really miss: my morning tea in my kitchen.

Eating is such a deep-rooted pleasure as soon as we human beings have passed beyond the necessity of surviving! Cooking is the link to that, because without it the pleasure is limited. That is one of the reasons why I believe in real cooking and in having no restrictions on the way I eat. I do not much care for any kind of diet other than common sense. In my kitchen, gluten and sugar are celebrated, and I talk to my sourdough. I eat everything and try not to eat too much, which is a daily challenge. The only rule in my kitchen is that the cooking has to be done with love. So, no matter if it’s feeding myself a simple salad, or cooking a meal for my husband, or hosting a party, I keep that rule.

The gesture of love is always present. Imagine cooking for people you loathe – you would lose your appetite. The joy of eating is deeply rooted in our story, and often in our relationship with our mothers. I cooked for my children with a lot of love and sometimes with too much emphasis, not being able to compromise with their lunchbox and feeling miserable when they asked for ready-made things.

Compromising would have made my life easier. I could always handle criticism in my kitchen, but not from my children. I was instantly hurt if they did not think my food shook their world. I know they carry that with them. They know food sustains them and will probably always play an important role in their wellbeing.

I like to think civilization starts at the dinner table. Not to sound totally mad… but I do think all the conversations and exchanges of ideas coming out of my kitchen are important to keep striving to improve the world; and this applies not only to dinner at our house of course, but to all the dinners around the world. Dinner in my kitchen feels like time is carved out, and then all of sudden it runs out, people get up and leave, and you are left alone with your own reflections on the stories told, ideas presented.

Cooking is profoundly about living, so living in an era where the industry has taken over that part of people’s lives is such an unimagined paradox. I think cooking is more important than ever for the connection with nature and life, but also for the repetition; that is, the space in your daily life it creates to do something meaningful – and again: not all meals can be ambitious, there have to be lots of simple meals cooked in a flash. The kitchen encompasses all of that: a space where the daily humdrum business of every day unfolds.

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