It was a good kitchen

The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it’s a kitchen, if it’s somewhere where they make food, it’s fine with me. Ideally it should be well broken in. Lots of tea towels, dry and immaculate. White tile catching the light (ting! ting!)

So begins Banana Yashimoto’s novella Kitchen, a warmly comforting read about a girl finding happiness again after an unexpected bereavement, and a friendship that grows into more. For someone who also likes hanging out in the kitchen and who enjoyed Luisa Weiss’ kitchen memoirs, this was perfect lazy reading.

The scratching of our pens mingled with the sound of raindrops beginning to fall … 

While he made tea, I explored the kitchen. I took everything in: the good quality of the mat on the wooden floor and Yuichi’s slippers; a practical minimum of well-worn kitchen things, precisely arranged. A Silverstone frying pan and a delightful German-made vegetable peeler…

There were things with special uses like …. porcelain bowls, gratin dishes, gigantic platters, two beer steins. Somehow it was all very satisfying.

I looked  around, nodding and murmuring approvalingly, “Mmm, mmm.” It was a good kitchen. I fell in love with it at first sight.

A time of green things

I think of that time of year as a time of green things. Green like me, and unlike the city. Around the same time as the green melons, fruit sellers started to sell yesil erik, green plums…

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My first year in Istanbul I didn’t understand the plums. They are small, almost like oversized cherries, and hard. The second year we sit in the heat with whiskey and a saucer of salt in a spot where we can see the Bosphorus flow. Take a plum, bite a piece out, and dip the wet opening into the salt – just so, not too much. Now take another bite. Now a sip of whisky. The salt and the cold tart flesh and the smoky liquor and the ships that go by with their red – blue – grey containers packed high like a child’s wooden blocks do make sense. I begin to laugh. Now, I look forward to the green plums each year.

Green plums in FARE Istanbul. Image by @niftyswank

Achille Castiglione

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An Italian designer who would have been 100 in February, his studio in Milan is one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen.

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He collected objects endlessly, getting a sense of how they worked, of how they could be stretched or improved and what the most practical next steps would be.

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All photos April 2018.

Enchanted lives

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The name of a new FREE exhibition that the British Museum has on about Patrick Leigh Fermor, two of his artist friends and their love for Greece. I’m afraid that PLF was an “epic shit”, to borrow Tina Brown’s description of Boris Johnson, but he did write so well…

You can tell how excited I am about this, I think. The BM consistently puts out great quality exhibitions, many of which – like this one – are free, and yet these side shows get equally regularly overlooked by the trendy press, who want to enjoy their opening view with an Instagram-worthy cocktail or two. In fashion isn’t what the BM does, but excellent showcasing of their top rate collection and genuinely different, inspiring shows are, so I’m leading the band on this one.