Post 362 – by Gautam Shah
Cooking and Dining, have been conjunct areas. Dining is intimately related to the food preparation activity. Dining area has been shifting close and away from cooking area. The reasons are due to environmental, ethnic, social, religious, organizational and technological reasons. Cooking and dining, originally flourished, in the same space segment; separated in the middle ages, and once again merged during the last century. The dining, however, is now poised to supersede the kitchen or cooking. Dining itself may become a food ‘preparation’ area.
The Kitchen-dining, have had varied proximity mainly due to the environmental factors. Cooking areas in all climate zones were untidy and uncomfortable due to heat, smoke, and soot, all due to poor quality fuels. To compound these odours of food preparation and garbage, were not easily manageable. In tropics it was possible to prepare food in open or semi-open spaces, but in colder climates environmental control was dependent on chimneys or roof holes. Natural illumination was another concern in absence of glazed openings. Cooking and dining, still remained adjunct to each other in all climate zones. In smaller dwellings, both remained in the same space, but in large mansions the retinue of servants mediated the separation.
The dining area has had many different forms, depending on the nature of food, schedules, moods, companionship, sex, age and social standing of the diners, ambiance of space, and other engagements. Dining consists of morning tea, breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon tea and snacks, supper or evening meals, or late night caps. These are taken in different sections of the house. The settings for food consumption ranges from a stiff dining table to an informal verandah, nurseries, terraces, home garden, to very intimate one in bed.
Small houses due to space restraints may combine food preparation, cooking and dining to same section of the space and share the amenities. Urban families stay in smaller houses where dining is more of the functional need without any scope for social interaction. The busy life styles, (working husband and wife, other adults) does not permit extensive cooking at home, or have frequent dinner guests. A bar platform, once an intervening element between the kitchen and dining or the extension of a pantry, meant for brunch and fast-track meal; now began to replace the formal dining space and table. The functional bar like a platform with tall stools, allows one to have a quick-bite in a standing or semi-siting position. Such small dwellings and single person units do away with the formal dining table or a designated space.
The kitchen and dining were once separated through a pantry. The pantry and store rooms began to be useless for several reasons, 24×7 hours assured supplies, smaller size of family and less frequent partying at home. The kitchen-dining also began to be connected through a door, often double leaf glass doors. The kitchen-dining connection was further dilated with removal of the mid-barriers. An exclusive kitchen conceded the living room (family room) to the drawing room, but a living room, well integrated with the kitchen, allowed the drawing room to exist on its own -a secluded space.
Dining room is merging into the kitchen for other reasons. For husband and wife as a working couple find the combined kitchen and dining with better chance of communication, for being together, and enjoy the soap operas.
Food preparation cooking, serving, and dining, were all well delineated in terms of the purpose, place and space. But these have been changing. Modern homes subsist on pre-cooked, preserved, ready packaged foods. These require warming in a microwave and the serviettes, dishes, bowls, tableware, are disposable. The working person has lunch at the workplace, and dinner in a restaurant. The kitchen and dining are deprived of their core functions.