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Kitchen Envy

We have a really great kitchen. I love our Jenn-Air gas stove/convection oven, our industrial baker's rack, our huge work table, our deep industrial double sink, our cement floors, and our European dishwasher. I'm not surprised when guests at our gourmet parties envy our kitchen, wishing they had one just like it. Envy comes from the French word "envie", which means "to desire". Years ago, I learned that envy and jealousy are wonderful, positive emotions because they allow you to identify the things you want.

Lately, I've been assembling a new "vision board", a collage of images that comprise my current visual wish list. Much to my surprise, I seem to be dreaming about kitchens. When I saw these two photos, I had powerful kitchen envy/envie. The huge oven and the center island in the first photo, the traditional French table in the second photo, and the wood-burning ovens in both, appeal to me. They'd be perfect in that French farmhouse we plan to own one day. 

Our current dining room table is almost 10 feet long; we can fit twelve people at the table. I love that table, but I dream of an even bigger one similar to the communal tables you find at Le Pain Quotidien. My dream table would also come with drawers like the one in this photo. Why do French tables have those little drawers? They are used to store napkins and napkin rings. When it comes to dining habits, the French have been 'green' for a long time, using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. So that the napkins can be re-used throughout the week, each member of the family has their own unique napkin ring (rond de serviette), often engraved with their first name. I count the two traditional wooden napkin rings Pascal bought for us at Mont Saint Michel among my greatest treasures. On one side, they have a very touristy painting of the island; on the other our names are hand-written in black paint. For me, they are a symbol of our union as a couple. We had those napkin rings long before we had wedding rings, and each night when he pulls them out for dinner (his boasts a blue cloth gingham napkin; mine is a coordinating red gingham), it reminds me that we are a family.  I look forward to the day when that little drawer in my dream table is filled with napkin rings, each engraved with name that represents a friend or relative who always has a place at our big communal table. Who wouldn't envy a kitchen like that?


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