If you were to step foot in my kitchen, you would probably laugh at its size. I do. It’s about ten feet long and four feet wide. There’s an average-sized refrigerator, a small gas stove that is on its way out and every time you try to turn on the gas you have to light it using a match. Then we have our scratched up counter and underneath that is a series of small drawers with peeling paint and chipping wood holding various utensils. Above that we have a cabinet with more spices than I can count, bags of pasta, soup packets. The list goes on. There’s also another cabinet that houses all the cans of beans, granola bars, chips, expired vegetable shortening, and the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips that I always pilfer from so that my parents never suspect anything. The kitchen can barely fit three people, which is the size of my family. But it is hard to imagine how just one small place can hold so much food, let alone so many memories. Every item, from the refrigerator to the breadbox, holds a moment that I relive every time I enter that crammed space.
During the first two months of my junior year I was on my high school’s cross country track team. It was a strenuous experience with practices going as late as 6 o’clock some weeknights, and every race, every practice, left me immensely hungry. I remember one evening in particular. I was coming home from another brutal practice full of sit-ups and sprints. I had just stepped off the R train at the 4th avenue and 9th street stop in Brooklyn. It was an unusually humid night in mid September, I was sweaty, sore and the putrid stench of pee emitting from the station was only exacerbating my mood. The hunger pangs in my stomach were just making me queasier.
Reaching my doorstep, I let out a sigh of relief. Slamming the door behind me, I kicked off my muddied Asics sneakers and trudged up my staircase. With every step I took, I was one step closer to my kitchen and the smell of sizzling garlic and mushrooms wafted around my nose. Reaching my kitchen I saw my mother, her back turned to me as she was chopping away at a medley of vegetables: mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, and onions. She threw the diced onions in with the mushrooms causing a sizzling and popping noise which mimicked the sound of applause at some Taylor Swift concert. She then grabbed a plastic bag of whole-wheat penne, ripped it open, and threw that into a giant pot – or cauldron, I should say – full of boiling water. With every scent I inhaled, I relived each time my mother made this pasta dish because each time she made it she used the exact same ingredients. And every time, it tasted different…and better.