Let us face it: every good party ends up in the kitchen at some point. And this is neither a coincidence, nor is it really a new phenomenon. The kitchen is the expression and center of life of a family, a household. During meal-time, everyone comes together, reports on their day, their encounters, experiences, joys and fears. The basic need for relationship and bonding is cultivated and maintained here.
Already in the first, simple dwellings after the primitive hut, the fireplace formed the central point. Warmth was generated around the fire, people moved together and were also more protected from predators or enemies. In addition, smoke and fumes could be easily discharged from the inside to the outside. From a logistical point of view, too, the construction plans of future buildings based on this system have established themselves. Cooking and dining areas were located in the center of the architecture and were used to receive friends and guests, while all other functions, such as sleeping areas, and in later development, sanitary facilities, were arranged around them, starting from the center.
However, the connections between the art of cooking and the art of building are even more complex than the aforementioned interaction. They also include more than just the great effort that goes into designing restaurants in such a way that guests really feel at ease while eating, or into giving one's own residential kitchen a professional appearance. This is because both cooking and building are activities that satisfy not only human coexistence but also two existential needs. They are governed by cultural conventions and defined by traditions and rituals. At the same time, they follow a system, a composition of individual components. Both can be broken down into their components, similar to a construction kit. Plan, measure and ratios play important roles and can be used in a very metaphorical way across the board: A recipe becomes a blueprint, ingredients become materials, preparation time becomes construction time, and the finished dish becomes the constructed building. The aesthetic appearance, including its harmonious interplay from detail to whole, can even be transferred proverbially 1:1.
The fact that harmony and the striving for perfection underlie not only building and cooking but also all other arts - including music - is due to the fact that man as a sensual being strives for these motives. Measures, numbers and their relations determine nature and man and consequently also his (built) environment, as Leonardo Da Vinci continuously investigated and proved before.
But there seems to be an even more intensive connection between cooking and building in particular, since several senses are being addressed here simultaneously. For this reason, current developments within society also affect both areas in a similar way, allowing conclusions to be drawn. Less becomes more and a very conscious and focused perception is required. In architecture, this is currently expressed in minimalist, linear buildings. High-quality but reduced, ideally made of sustainable raw materials. Colors and materials are used almost puristically and shine with "non-shiny" and "invisibility". Food is also increasingly defined by minimalism, genuineness and regionality. What is found on the plate is light, elegant and draped in perfection. Even tweezers and molecular technology are used to create little works of art that look almost too precious to be eaten and serve the eye rather than the taste. In terms of taste, perhaps still a pleasure, but the hunger is hardly satisfied in the upscale restaurant kitchen.
So are we going beyond the objective? The ongoing pursuit of perfection definitely makes it difficult for the arts within the everyday. In this way, culinary skills and the actual art of cooking have as little to do with each other as architecture and the art of building. The special feature of building and cooking - to appeal to several senses at the same time - is lost if only the visually perfect image is aimed at. And being a master in one's field has always meant understanding and internalizing the field of activity as a whole. The beginning of a counter-trend can therefore already be seen in both sectors: Do-It-Yourself products in building supply stores are becoming more and more popular and are increasingly being declared as "creative departments". Surveys have even shown that consumers are paradoxically willing to pay more for a piece of furniture if they have assembled it themselves, as in their eyes it gains in value and individuality. Cooking courses also tend to be booked up well in advance and are becoming more and more popular as an experience gift. We want to learn from professionals, become professionals ourselves and satisfy the whole range of senses: sight, smell, touch, taste. At the same time, through independent experience and learning, we become aware of what it really means to prepare a dish that the whole family enjoys, or to build a house in which everyone really feels at home. We look behind the beautiful appearance and explore what is behind it with all our senses. So ask yourself: What is "good taste" for you personally and what does it comprise?
Photographs by Masahiro Naruse via Unsplash