I have been noticing on the remodeling shows how people really want to have a large open kitchens full of design details (stainless steel appliances, huge heavy duty stoves, and industrial looking faucets and sinks) that look like they come from professional/restaurant style kitchens. The great irony is that, due to women working and busy lifestyles, people are cooking less than ever. Less and less people have the time or energy after a hard day to prepare something from scratch and do it well. It is so much easier to buy a premade meal and heat it up in the microwave, or go eat junk food. This is having a devastating affect on our health as we leave our nutrition decisions to big corporations, who think and cook for us.
So just as we are abandoning real cooking we are demanding kitchens that increasingly incorporate not just quality, but also numerous industrial/restaurant style touches, as if we regularly cooked massive amounts of serious food. The less we take real food preparation seriously, the more we insist on making our kitchen look similar to those that turn out high volume quality meals that people are willing to pay for. The more we abandon the kitchen, the more we worry about making it look like we are serious cooks…or even chefs.
Thus kitchens become not only more professional looking, but also larger and grander and more showy. In the past the kitchen was a work place where people seriously cooked, and so the kitchen was separated from the rest of the house to hide the growing mess, and also certain unwanted odors created while cooking. In other words the kitchen was designed to get the job done, not to be a showy center piece. Today with little cooking going on, the mess and smells are minimal, so people feel the need to show off their beautiful and largely unused kitchen. And also to overcompensate with industrial touches that strongly hint that they are actually serious cooks…just not when anyone happens to be around.
We see many similar things where people take on the accoutrements of activities that they never actually do, just to look and feel adventurous…and sexy. People buy mountain bikes and Jeeps, but then never take them off road. They wear clothes designed for climbing glaciers, but never even hike.
In this spirit of indulging our fantasies, have had an enormous growth of gourmet type cooking shows, where people can live vicariously, indulging in their fantasies of doing real cooking, while comfortably and passively loafing on the sofa in front of the TV. Martha Stewart basically appeals to career women who can indulge in domestic fantasies, which they have absolutely no time for. They can pretend that they are spending the whole afternoon making home made artesinal strawberry jam from their own garden, instead of spending their days in front of a computer or in traffic. We like to pretend that we do things that look good to others, and to indulge our fantasies of doing that which we do not have the time or energy to actually do.