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Messy Kitchens Mean Metaphors

Messy Nest:

Messy Kitchens Mean Metaphors

Amy Alexander

It’s Thanksgiving, the season of kitchens. I have long been obsessed with ovens, cauldrons, copper pots and pans and the room where women have traditionally been left alone and allowed to create.

I have written several poems about both Betty Crocker and Typhoid Mary, and I love to be in the kitchen.

Here’s something I try to tell everyone within a few weeks of meeting them: In 1998, I got the opportunity to interview Julia Child. Her voice was as lovely and shimmery as the stiff peaks my egg whites were supposed to reach (only by hand, mind you, a stand mixer being, in her mind, cheating) as she told me that I overbeat my egg whites, which is why they deflated. Then she was gentle and, like she did with her viewers on her immensely popular The French Chef, laughed off my mistake and reminded me that I could do it again. And again. And again, if necessary.

The whole exchange made me giddy, and I immediately went out and bought every cooking implement I could find (even a sifter!) and vowed to try as many of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Childs’ iconic cookbook, that I could find. As I worked my way through fish in white wine sauce (overrated, and not spicy enough for my Cajun family’s palate), Brussels sprouts impregnated with butter by smearing it over a piece of waxed paper and placing that, face down, over the top of the Brussels sprouts to create a kind of water cycle of butter between the sprouts and the spread, and, finally, her flourless chocolate cake that I mastered, but then forgot as soon as I had my own small mouths to feed.

I am hoping to get back into the kitchen, with the arrival of a new show on Netflix called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, which is part Martha Stewart, part muppets, and part Addams Family. I want to make some spooky holiday treats, not the least of which will be an Abominable Snowman cake. I have extensive fantasies of the unveiling of this cake; the oohs and ahhs, the comments and suggestions that I open my own bake shop. After all, when I took a career test in college, it clearly stated I should shuck music, art, and writing to become a pastry chef.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell 2018 Netflix

But, first, I guess I need to clean my kitchen, which stays a lot messier than I would like because--duh!--why would I want to scrub away at the kitchen when I could be writing? That got me to wondering if other parent writers have messy kitchens, so, of course, I went to Twitter and asked for photographs of kitchens. My Twittersphere did not disappoint. It turns out that when you are writing brilliant things and editing other brilliant things, the kitchen can wait another day. And another. And another.

My kitchen. Oh, goodness, have I got work to do.

I wonder if I will have to choose between having a kitchen that is company ready and doing my writing. I do notice that, with limited time, I have to choose: Either write or birth a crock masterpiece. Most of the time, I will choose writing. It feeds people, after all, and not just the ones who happen to live around my table.

A bunch of my gutsy writer parent friends sent me photos of their kitchens. I loved seeing their homes and imagined myself sitting there talking with them, for real. Thank you to Kate Garrett (@mskateybelle), Elisabeth Horan (@ehoranpoet), Jessie Lynn McMains (@rustbeltjessie), and Andre Lepine (@andre_n_lepine) for sharing their kitchens with me and their wonderful wordy skills with the world (even if at the expense of a spick and span kitchen!).

Andre Lepine

Kate Garrett

Jessie Lynn McMains

Elisabeth Horan

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