Sitting down at a table and sharing a meal cooked by someone we love is something we can all relate to. Yet, it seems like more and more American meals are being eaten on the go. People eat their breakfasts while commuting, take lunches at their desks, and eat dinners in the comfort of their own beds.
"We were interested in creating a piece which gives viewers a glimpse into the private lives of real people around the world ... We thought a good way of doing this would be to invite people to share a photograph of the place where they cook and eat, along with a few words about what the experience means to them," Matt Lindley, a spokesperson for the project, told A Plus. "They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and whoever 'they' are couldn't be more right. The kitchen is where experiences are had and memories are made. It's a place to cook, to eat, to connect, no matter where you are in the world."
From Serbia to India to Australia, all of the participants felt a special connection to their kitchen, cooking, and eating. "It seems that the kitchen has a special place in the home as somewhere we can go to escape the fast-paced world outside, slow down, and connect with family and friends, somewhere unchangeable and dependable," Lindley said.
The project certainly makes us want to sit down for a home-cooked meal with friends and family, but it also gives us a glimpse of cultures around the world. It shows that people around the world may not be as different from us as we may think.
"The food may change, along with the people and some of the traditions, but feeling stays the same," Lindley said. "All these kitchens are fairly well-appointed, and when you read what the contributors have to say, many of them share the same ideas, opinions, and experiences."
Check it out below:
1. United States
"I love to cook and bake. I have a mixed heritage, but one that stands out is my Cajun heritage from my mother's side. A few of my great uncles from this side of my family were chefs, so despite the fact that my mother was not much of cook, I feel I was destined to find myself in the kitchen. I find tremendous pleasure in preparing food for others to enjoy. Being able to share my skills in this way is a gift.
Another thing I like to do is bake with my two daughters, it's a great way to bond and spend time together. We bake cookies on a regular basis. I hope one day that they will have a love of cooking and baking like I do."
— Jennifer Greeley, Texas
"Being from a Gujarati family, eating together with family and friends has always been important to me. I live with my extended family — my parents, grandparents, wife and daughter, so it's a very important and cultural thing to gather around for homemade food. I cherish the moments when our whole family including uncles, aunts and cousins with their kids gather during festivals and celebrations; it is a special time.
Traditionally and culturally, my wife, mom and grandmom are involved more with the cooking and preparation of food for the whole family. I like to get involved with them while deciding the menu for the meals. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner we also have high tea around 4 p.m.
I have fond memories of my childhood days whenever a paternal family get together was arranged. My cousins and I — six of us — would eat from one big silver dish, which we still have. Even as adults, during festival time like Rakhi and Diwali, we all still prefer to sit together and eat from that very same dish just to re-live those moments. Nowadays, our kids join us too."
— Pankit Shah, Gurjurat
"Our kitchen is by far the most popular place in our home. With two teenagers who are immersed in sport and training, well, it's safe to say that eating is a big part of our lives, and can they eat!
I like to cook a lot of German food as I've been influenced a lot by my Oma and Opa, who emigrated to Australia from Germany after WWII.
I used to help my Oma in her kitchen when I was really little. I remember her teaching me how to make pierogies, which are a type of dumpling filled with bacon and onions. They're delicious and I always make them now when it's my turn to host our extended-family gatherings.
Whilst Oma and Opa are no longer with us, we can't help but remember them for that brief moment when we're tucking into our pierogies. It's funny how something so simple can conjure so many memories and I hope that my kids experience this kind of nostalgia when they get older and make pierogies for their families too."
— Jodie Chapman, Brisbane
"There are a lot of traditional family meals in Germany, especially around special occasions, like Easter or Christmas. These meals are a lot of fun. Eating together is a big part of the German culture so I associate the kitchen with family and warm memories. I usually cook and eat with my wife, if working hours allow it. We like to eat out on weekends with friends, and when we see our family, a big dinner party is always planned.
When I have kids, I will definitely teach them to honour family eating traditions and the importance of good food."
— Immo Eifler, Hamburg
"As young professionals in the most highly populated country on the planet, we do not have the biggest of apartments, and this means that our kitchen barely has enough space to cook, let alone accommodate a table. So we bought a small table which we put on top of our bed and we sit and eat there. We think it's a pretty good solution, but sometimes I do wish we had the space for a proper table to eat at."
— Robert Bailey, Hangzhou
"I live with my husband and my children. With work, school and our daily routines we don't often get time to prepare food from scratch at home, but we try to eat together as often as possible and we usually have our meals in the kitchen. We rarely allow the children to eat in front of the TV. At the weekend, when we have more time, we usually cook and have bigger family meals."
— Julia Dimitrov, Sliven
7. United Kingdom
"The kitchen moment I will never forget is when we had just moved in. Our house is very old and needed a lot of repairs. I was very concerned about a crack in the kitchen ceiling and was convinced it was going to fall down on us. While my husband and I stood there, discussing it — him trying to reassure me it was totally safe — the ceiling collapsed, showering us both in plaster. Fortunately neither of us was hurt, but I won't let him forget that I was right!"
— Kim Curran, London
"Since childhood I have had a passion for cooking. The first recipe I attempted to cook was from a children's book called Il Manuale di Nonna Papera (The Grandma Duck's Manual). I started with the hardest thing to make: meringues.
The real Italian kitchen includes both the part for preparing food and the dining table. They are not two separate rooms. I like my big open kitchen and dining area."
— Focsa, Molise
"The main meal for my family is lunch, this is when everyone is back from work or school, and we usually gather around the table in the kitchen, and have a nice meal. I often experiment with food, either with the techniques or to add my own touches to recipes, which sometimes backfires and I end up either eating my creation by myself, or worse, having to throw it out.
Having got married when I was 15, I still remember the long conversations I had with my mother over the phone. I used to ask her to teach me how to cook "this dish" or "that dish," or what I should do after accidentally adding a fish spice to a meat dish!"
— Needah Abu Saif, Amman
10. The Netherlands
"My kitchen is a tiny one and is always a mess. I'm a messy cook and I'm pretty accident-prone too. Once I tried to smell a thick pea soup, which was bubbling in the pan. The soup splashed into my face and burned me. Thankfully that didn't put me off cooking for long!
The Dutch cuisine isn't very exciting. Our most famous dish is meatballs with mashed potato with some kind of vegetable or root, and a puddle of gravy. This type of food is traditionally eaten around 6.00 pm and not a minute later, but this is changing. We see the Spaniards, Italians, the French and even our neighbors in Belgium dining late, drinking wine and having a blast — we want that too!"
— Elise Vermeeran, Utrect
"The first few dishes I ever learnt to cook were fried eggs and dumplings. I used to read a lot of cookbooks but now I tend to YouTube recipes. In Russia we have a tradition during the winter where we gather the whole family and sculpt dumplings. Although not many families do this today, I'd love to pass this tradition to my own family one day as it's a moment of fun and friendship between everyone."
— Irina Kulikova, Siberia
12. South Africa
"It took a while for me to become responsible with my cooking. I remember the early days when I left cooking oil on for too long, which then caught fire. Thankfully, it only stained the ceiling.
I have since progressed in my cooking and have learned that you can make a meal regardless of what combination of ingredients you have. I love the feeling of experimenting with my food and coming up with wild combinations of taste. I think everyone should try experimenting with food. There are rules in so many areas in life and I think the only rule I'd make for my kitchen is, EXPERIMENT!"
— Yamikana Katunga, Johannesburg
"My family and I cook and prepare food at home most days. I live with my mum, dad, brother, sister-in-law and my nephew. Cooking is a very large part of our culture, in fact one of the main sources of entertainment for us in our city is food. We typically eat in the living room at home, mostly on the floor.
Some of my favorite memories from childhood were of my mom, when she would cook something different; something western for dinner. Back then, western cuisine was not very common in our country, and these occasional treats that she made after watching American cooking channels, were always an exciting surprise."
— Mohammed Rassa, Karachi