Traditionally, the kitchen has always been a pokey place with just enough place for the long suffering ‘bai’ to cut, chop and generally toil unseen and thus provide the extremely complex and wonderfully varied meals enjoyed by most Indians. But now, with things that were taken for granted just five years ago becoming luxuries, the home is also being adapted to change.
The best way to adapt to the change would be to think positive and look at other interlocking trends, that could all indicate that an open kitchen is not such a problem!
The first change being the lack of time for the whole family to sit down to a long and complicated meal – it is more about ‘grabbing a bite’ sometimes at individual mealtimes and the meal itself may just be a bowl of cereal or just a fruit.
Such meals are now better eaten inside the kitchen where the housewife may already be working – since the second big change is the lack of good hired help…in most cases the housewife now needs to be in the kitchen to cook and keep an eye on things. So it is the best way to spend a few extra minutes with members of the family, rather than sit in a separate room altogether, in solitary splendour!
Many of the apartments available today have seen and acknowledged this trend, incorporating the eating area into the kitchen, where family interactions are facilitated by not having a wall or barrier in between. Also in the smaller spaces available today, this maximises the inner layout of the apartment, allowing greater emphasis on the things that people spend more time on – like the living room.
An open plan kitchen can also help when entertaining, to add intimacy as well as a feeling of inclusion in the process of making and setting up a meal. The informality can endear the guests to the hostess and vice versa – plus not having to make a trip up and down to the kitchen since it is all at hand.
This is not to say that closed kitchens are a thing of the past – they have many advantages, chief among them being the ability to reduce the smell and noise from chimneys by the simple expedient of closing the door! Also they are invaluable when there is a mess as a result of cooking or in the aftermath of a fun party, all of which can just be removed from sight by closing a door!
There are pros and cons to both types of kitchen plans, but the older lobby of closed kitchens is also weakening as it also perceived as being just that little bit old-fashioned. Thus we now see the phenomenon of a ‘front’ or show kitchen – where the host or hostess can show their cooking skills… even if these are nonexistent!