“No Travel” Tales #1: The Kitchen

What happens when a travel writer can’t travel? I’ve turned to narrating adventures chez moi – home-trotting, if you will. No more talk of mountain hiking, encounters with friendly locals, or the sampling of regional delicacies. Instead, I’ll be reporting on the next best thing: the hum of passive aggression with relatives in close quarters, the anticipation of a food delivery and the art of dodging joggers. I give you “No Travel” Tales, accounts of various realms of home life and that one daily excursion into the outdoors. We’re kicking it off today with the buzzy kitchen. 

It’s day 24 of lockdown, which means breakfast #30. The kitchen has become the primary source of happiness and, quite frankly, sanity within the house. A room which single-handedly provides distraction from the not-so-great outdoors, offering fuel for both procrastination and productivity. A formerly messy zone has transformed into a dettoxed oasis – as in the spray, not a whacky Goop-style diet, we haven’t quite reached those depths just yet. Glistening surfaces and fresh tea towels prevent any virus germs from penetrating such a haven. 

Normally the kitchen beckons to you with aromas of garlic, sizzling butter or oven bakes, but increased exposure to the room has revealed new characteristics which aren’t quite as mouthwatering. Where you once might have been serenaded at a candle-lit dinner on a pier in paradise, you’re now confronted with a cacophony of beeping appliances. Pair this with a more acute awareness of noise in general – a symptom of cabin fever, I imagine – and the sound effects become all the more shrill. Sometimes they play out all at once, a millisecond and various octaves apart. It’s almost as if they’ve got an agenda, keeping you on your toes when your step count is awfully stagnant. 

First goes the four-times beep of the kettle, a regular feature since tea is rightly classed as an absolute essential during these trying times. This more often than not comes with additional beeps as you impatiently press various buttons to ensure that the not-in-tune kettle accepts your request. It’s really not the time for someone to quash your tea addiction. 

Next goes the high-pitched toaster alongside a whiff of charred crumbs, which doesn’t quite evoke the feeling of a roaring open fire in a ski chalet or the sizzling juices of a beachside barbecue. The beep sends fellow residents into a frenzy, having forgotten that they re-toasted the bread as it needed that “extra bit of browning”. If only we had one of those savvy toasters with the “a little bit more” setting – sponsorships are welcome fyi. 

Meanwhile, the fridge has started to kick off because it was (momentarily, I stress) left open while attending to various other machines. This escalates into a full blown tantrum with incessant beeping and, ultimately, the climax: the light switching off. Let’s be honest, it’s not going to reach room temperature within seconds so it needs to chill out. Really I should cut it some slack. We’re all having meltdowns, after all. 

Since lockdown began, a fourth appliance has entered the realm, making frequent excursions to the kitchen a bit more mysterious. The pièce de résistance is the contactless soap dispenser, a penguin-shaped machine that not only dispenses of the need for physical touch – a recently designated no-go zone – but also sought-after antibacterial handwash. We’ve all got an affinity for this newest member of the family, noticeable from the regular whirring noise activated when the spout senses your dry scaly skin beneath it. Rather ironically, it’s called the simple human – an unintended nod to what we’ve all become within just a few weeks. 

But I’ve grown to be thankful for this electronic quartet in quarantine, itself becoming an unusual form of social interaction. Just don’t go overboard and introduce a fifth element: the smoke alarm from that aforementioned cindered slice of precious bread. 

Stay tuned for more “No Travel” Tales in the coming weeks!

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