Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Oh, there it is.

It's the little things that get you.

Like when you reach for something you absolutely must have at that particular second, and it isn't there. Because if it isn't there, it could be anywhere; which means whatever you are doing in the kitchen will be ruined by the time you make enquiries of the rest of the household as to the whereabouts of the missing item: your best knife, the corkscrew, the only colander in the house, an oven mitt, the kitchen sink plug. Whatever. All of these things have a number of potential alternative uses in a household that comprises inventive or enterprising people.

Take my favourite small dish, for example. It was just the right size to hold olives or a pat of butter for the table. Emblazoned with the University of Melbourne crest and the words Melbourne University Union House Cafeteria in black, the white porcelain bowl also made an excellent talking point. (And no, I didn't steal it.)

One day, a long time ago now, I had taken a stick of butter out of the fridge, chopped it in half, cubed the half and reached for my Union House bowl. Not there.

I found it months later in Tracy's artroom filled to just below the crest with dried paint; red mixed with yellow to make a perfect orange for her painting of sunset over citrus groves after one of our trips to Mildura, the city built by the Chaffey brothers, out of nothing, in a desert.

How could I be annoyed? Who says the bowl was any better utilised mixing paint than it was holding butter? Or sitting on a table in a cafeteria at Melbourne University Union House, for that matter? Except that the latter no longer exists. In fact, no cafeteria exists any more. What replaced cafeterias? Beats me.


Speaking of unlikely favourite items, my best butter knife has a similar background. It could be a hundred years old. The handle is of the old-fashioned bulbous kind, swelling at the top in elegant silver filigreed with scrolls and arabesques. The blade is broad and slightly flexible, providing excellent butter - and vegemite, of course - coverage with a couple of efficient sweeps of the hand. The handle bears the crest and motto of the Athenaeum Club.

And no, I didn't steal it.


Finally, a universal kitchen mystery: teaspoons. Where do all the teaspoons go?

Over to you: the answer to the question immediately above, along with stories of missing items from your kitchen, or your souvenirs - stolen or otherwise - please.


jo said...

My most treasured souvenirs are the bulbous stemless brandy snifters given to myself and the jazz musician of the past after a night of Armagnac at the bar of the restaurant(Biba - no longer open) owned by my culinary goddess Lydia Shire(thankfully still here and now running the last bastion of old yankee Boston, Loche Ober).

The olive oil decanter given out in a goodie bag when I attended the biggest culinary event in the city, held annually (again, sadly no longer) called the Spinnazola festival (in honour of a well loved restaurant/food reviewer- bon vivant). A friend who plays sax was hired to play the event and called me at the last minute with his spare guest ticket. I accepted, ran from work, bought clothes, changed in the office loo and attended solo. One of the defining nights of my life. I've had it oh, 14 years now and I think of that night every time I use it.

And the teaspoons. Your right...where DO they all go?

Thanks for the memories.

Dr. Alice said...

My favorite kitchen souvenir is a juice glass. I found it in a junk store in Louisiana two years ago while visiting friends. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It's thick greenish glass, with a pressed pattern of leaves and flowers, and fits beautifully in the hand. It has become my de facto wineglass.

One good thing about living alone is that if anything walks away from the kitchen I know there's only one person to blame: me.

phoenixmummy said...

I lost my favourite piece of kitchen equipment was my well seasoned cast iron wok. Sadly, I lost it to a tragic fall when a squirrel pushed it off the stove onto the tiled floor and it cracked! I didn't think cast iron could do that! Hmmm.... maybe it wasn't, but i did love it all the same.

And I think the teaspoons come to my house because I have a lot of them and none of them match the set I was given by my sister.

kitchen hand said...

Jo, great souvenirs. I have to say that goodie bag contents at food festivals here do not run to anything like olive oil decanters or indeed anything practical. My daughter (W. and T.'s much older sister) used to take teaspoons to school for her yogurt snacks, but the rate of disappearance has not abated since she left home. (She later restocked the household with souvenired Lauda Air teaspoons in the days when they were actual metal.) The mystery remains.

Dr. Alice, I'm another wineglass subsitutor. One of my de facto glasses years ago was a clear glass Vegemite tumbler which for some reason made red taste better.

Jo Blue, cast iron can break given the wrong treatment, such as by your squirrel. Send teaspoons!

KT said...

At the (few) universities I'm familiar with, cafeterias have been replaced with "food courts."

I'd feel lost without my melamine pho bowls - the kind you get for a few bucks at Asian markets - they are just the right size for holding prepped vegetables before throwing them into the stir fry.

kitchen hand said...

KT, a food court in a university? I'd feel like going shopping after eating.

Those melamine bowls - I do exactly that with them as well, line them all up in order of time taken to cook their contents!