I have lived for 46 years thus far. I have enjoyed many parties or, as my Grandfather used to call them, “Gatherings”. I have been a guest at many shindigs and hosted many as well. And last night, during a holiday party at our house, I absorbed an observation I have been making for many years. No matter how big the home, no matter how delightful the living room or how comfortable the couch, people always seem to congregate in the kitchen.
It is such an interesting phenomenon to me. The kitchen is usually not the largest room in the home. There is usually some remaining cooking and preparations going on. There is always cooking-related heat lingering in the kitchen. And yet, it seems to always have the largest number of people congregated in it. People stand around, little-to-no places to sit, and talk up a storm in what becomes one of the loudest spots at the party.
My entire life, I have heard my Mom imploring our guests to “Get out of the kitchen!” But it was always the hotspot. My friends Chad & Nellie used to live in a house that had this old 70’s style kitchen with carpet and everything. And every single party I went to at their house, we always hung out in the kitchen. Cramped and in the way, but with the distinct feeling that you were where the action was.
Why is this? What is the intrinsic pull to the kitchen? Is it the draw to where the food is? Some survival instinct to be closer to sustenance? Is it the vibe of the kitchen? A soulful connection to where things are created? Where different ingredients are combined to make a dish? The spot where creativity is free to flourish? Is it a comfort place? A throwback to our youth where Mom was cooking and Dad was making a mess as he prepared his once a year “Pancakes for Dinner” tornado? Or is it the less formal nature of the kitchen? Is it that the kitchen has less dictate as to how you are supposed to act? Is it just more relaxed in there? As my wife reminded me this morning, The Kitchen is “The Heart of the Home”.
I guess when I think about it, I am not bothered by this trend. I like being in other peoples’ kitchens. I love hosting a party and looking into my kitchen and seeing a group of friends connecting. No matter what the answer is, I guess it just seems interesting that with so much emphasis placed on the living room as the place where people will congregate and sit, somehow most folks end up drawn to the kitchen. Maybe at our next party, we should just move the couch in there and call it a day.