Let me tell you what I was given in my apartment for a kitchen. Brace yourself my foodie friends because what I’m about to tell you is graphic in nature and may be extremely disturbing to your standard-having soul. On that fateful first day I remember wondering to myself as I laid on my ‘new’ bed…did I have a kitchen? upon further inspection I was still asking myself that. I walked into the small room my apartment had hinted at having a food preparation space. There I found two green camping stoves that showed signs of use as well as a larger orange gas stove that had definitely been used as a cooking device per the greasy-gritty drippings that now had a mesmerizing fuzzy, dusty build up. directly across from these heating instruments was a small two-part sink with a faucet fixed to the wall and producing a small drip, creating a persistent soundtrack to the first days in my apartment. Next I searched for a prep space, what I found was a sort of lopsided tiled ‘counter’ that can only be described as tiny; about the length of a legal pad and only slightly wider. The fridge was, in character of this kitchen, a mini-fridge. I had one small cabinet and one large cabinet to store all baking supplies and my plates, glasses, silverware, and food containers. This place was bleak.
I didn’t even have an oven.
As a self-professed food lover, the lack of ability to create my own baked goods hit hard. Real hard. Like eyes welling up, calling friends to vent, pacing confusedly around my apartment that, at the time I was referring to as a cement box, hard.
So I got to work deciding what to do about my situation. For the first few days I attempted to make my setup work. I attempted to use the camping stoves…they burned my bread and failed to get my water to boil. I tried to prepare food in my living room, as the table was about 4 times the size of my ‘prep’ counter in the kitchen. I found the one cooking pot in my apartment and managed to make an acceptable fasule (bean) dish. Then I decided to ask my landlord about getting a stove or an oven; ideally both. To my surprise he agreed wholeheartedly. I was taken aback, how could I have been so silly as to not just come out and ask for what I wanted/needed?
And then there was the wait. I lived in anticipation for a week and a half. I kept subtly or not so subtly, asking my counterpart, neighbors, anyone who would listen or I though to ask if they knew when my landlord would be able to deliver on his promise of an oven. I spent my days perusing various sites with recipes, remarking sarcastically to my friends with ovens and ‘real’ kitchens, oggling the brick oven at the pizza place to the point that the owners must have thought I was a point touched in the head. All the while I was staring at it thinking of all the delicious things a I could do with it if I could have even 2 hours alone with it. So many pizzas. SO.MANY.
Then the miracle occurred. I’d begun to feel as if ol’ Al my landlord was just a bunch of un-contained hot air and then he called me! He said in the limited english/ shqip I could understand that he was getting the oven that saturday! at first I though he meant straight away, and then I realized he said-via some translation from my counterpart that he would purchase it in the afternoon! I spent the interim taking a hike and discovering some caves ( a post for another time) and once I had returned and showered, he called again! I happily glided don the stairs of my apartment and met Al at an appliance shop close to my apartment. There he picked out an oven/hot plate appliance combo and a smile ignited across my face. I GOT BOTH!!!!
I’m not sure how much karma I cashed in on that day but I’m so okay with it!. my sad little kitchen felt reborn. I began scheming to add a little storage here, a little prep space there and just like that I could feel my foodie soul rise from the ashes of a camping stove induced depression.
I was gonna live to bake again.