Counter Intelligence: Tiny Kitchens

In New York, the tinyness of your kitchen--like your too-high rent and the distance to the subway--is something people like to talk about a lot. This is a city, afterall, where someone can rent out a couch for $1100 a month with a straight face. I mean, people always talk about how New York is an eater's paradise, with a rich variety of restaurants on every block, but I've always suspected this had less to do with the melting pot of cultures and customs and more to do with people's general inability to fit inside their own kitchens. Eventually, I'm sure, the combined pressures of the recession and the still-astronomical prices of Manhattan apartments will shrink kitchens down until people are cooking food over candles bought from Ikea ("They use it all the time in Sweden. It's called a Schnaudie.").

Last week, I briefly mentioned Mark Bitman--arguably the Brangelina of the food blogging world--and his thoughts on his tiny kitchen. When he posted a picture of himself cooking in a kitchen that would look small by Playskool standards, readers were incensed, insisting someone whose life revolved around cooking should at least be able to comfortable turn around in his kitchen. Bitman's response (made me love him just a little more) was essentially: it's not the size of the kitchen, but the resourcefulness of the chef. With that, I focus this week's Counter Intelligence on the maligned, beloved, tolerated, and ignored tiny kitchen.

First thing first, I do not have a tiny kitchen. My kitchen, while far from a feature spread in Home and Garden, at least has decent counter space, a lot of cabinets, and room to spread out. My roommates and I can all cook our dinners at the same time, for example, and we're not accidentally stabbing each other (of course, this has happened, like, once, since I eat my dinner at the early-bird special hour of 3pm). That said, I've done my fair share of tiny kitchen living, including a summer where I fed myself with nothing more than a microwave and a borrowed hot plate (by "fed myself," I mean "with popcorn and ramen noodles").

Bitman's observation is that a good chef can cook with a bunsen burner and a little bit of tin foil, and pretty much do ok. It's a nice reminder when I walk through Williams Sonoma, a store which fairly shrieks "You mean you don't have one of THESE?" When you have a kitchen where fitting everything in is like playing 3-D Tetris (which is sweet), you have to be picky with your appliances, so it's nice to think you can really just stick to the basics.

But, for those whose kitchens are either especially small or for those who can't do without their ultra deluxe coffee-maker/toast-slicer/cocktail-mixer, there are several ingenious designs to make your tiny kitchen a tiny palace.

treehugger has a nice selection of beautiful designs for little kitchens, but my favorite is the bright circular kitchen that is only 18 square feet and folds away nicely into a space-age pod.

Gizmodo highlighted a concept mobile kitchen from Whirlpool,
where each component of the kitchen can be separated and wheeled out into open space.
Sort of awsome except I'd worry about blowing myself up accidentally.

Momeld looks at the spacey Silverline Kitchen from Fevzi Karaman.
It's cute, although why did they photo the little kitchen in a giant spaceship?

I looove this kitchen. It's so big and bright and beautiful
it distracts nicely from the fact that you probably couldn't shimmy in it

Little kitchens, big <3s!

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