My Dream Kitchen – Mikeitz
This week’s parsha, Parshat Mikeitz, is extremely descriptive and pictorial. It begins with Pharoah’s dream of the seven emaciated cows that swallow the seven large cows, followed by his dream of seven gaunt wheat stalks that consume the seven full stalks.
It’s interesting to note that in Egypt, a land of stargazers, wizards, and black magicians, no one was able to conjure the solution to this riddle; and only Yosef, a young Hebrew slave, revealed the answer and calmed Pharoah’s fears.
I once heard a beautiful explanation to this question: Egypt, built along the flowing Nile River, benefited from an unceasing supply of water and thus never required the miracles or blessing of capricious rain to quench the thirst of its people and water its fields. Hence, even the greatest ministers and wizards of Egypt couldn’t fathom the concept of years-long hunger and drought, which was precisely why no one drew it from his arsenal of interpretations. Yosef, in contrast, who’d been forced down from Eretz Yisrael, a land of which is written, “According to the rains of the heavens you will drink water,” was accustomed to the phenomenon of praying constantly for sustenance. Inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael have always been compelled to lift their eyes toward the heaven in heartfelt entreaty for rain and nourishment. Thus Yosef, who was aware of the phenomenon of thirst and drought, easily read between the lines of Pharoah’s dreams.
Yosef warns Pharoah of the looming seven years of hunger and thirst. Simultaneously, he consoles him with the message that if he acts wisely to heed Yosef’s advice and stockpiles produce throughout the coming seven years of plenty, it will be sufficient to sustain the entire country during the seven years thereafter.
Old Egyptian cuisine
The Sar Hamashkim and Sar Ha’ofim whom Yosef met in the Egyptian dungeon also dreamed of food – of wine and goblets and baskets overflowing with breads and pastries. It almost sounds like a picnic, but the events that caused both ministers to be cast to the dungeons and their subsequent dreams and interpretations were far from joyous…
“Not upon bread alone…”
In this colorful, fascinating story, we perceive two glaring opposites: Hunger and satisfaction. We also meet the main cast:
Sar Hatabachim who, according to Rashi, was responsible to carve the meat. Sar Hamashkim who was responsible for the water system. Sar Ha’ofim who was responsible for all growths of the fields, and particularly the wheat and bread.
Other noteworthy elements in the storyline include: Bread (stalks); steak (cows); pullet (chicken); wine (grapes); bourekas and cakes (pastries)…
photo- Orit Alfassi
A variety of delicious ingredients that allow you to create the perfect cuisine, to enter your kitchen and get right down to work!
No longer a kibbutz kitchen!
The builders of the original kibbutz houses built a tiny niche in each house with a counter large enough to accommodate a teacup and teaspoon beside a narrow little sink which they dubbed the ‘kitchenette.’ As far as they were concerned, full-size kitchens were superfluous, a total waste of space.
In striking contrast, in today’s day and age, there is no room in the house more meticulously-designed (or expensive!) than the kitchen.
I need a designer kitchen. Pronto.
A designer kitchen has become a status symbol, even for the single male who’s never cooked an omelet in his life or popped a frozen pizza into the oven. It’s a must-have even for those who’d rather eat their takeout suppers on the couch with their feet up on the coffee table. Despite it all, they won’t yield on their designer kitchen!
Where to store my Pesach equipment?
There’s an endless array of written and pictorial information relevant to kitchen designs. Since it’s completely impossible to cover it all, in this post, I’ll focus on one particular element: The living, breathing, dynamic, constantly-active Jewish kitchen.
The traditional Jewish kitchen has many unique demands. Take a deep breath, because we’re about to list some of them now!
We’ve got an average of six to eight mouths to feed three times a day. We’ve got to make weekly Shabbos meals and cook for one-day, two-day and occasional three-day holidays! We’ve got to have completely separate surfaces, sinks, dishes and crockery for dairy and meat, not to mention pareve items, as well! We also need separate appliances for dairy and meat, including ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and an extra freezer!
Obviously, storage space is a must, especially when you account for the fact that we’ve got between double and triple of what everyone else has, plus Shabbos dishes, stemware and flatware and all the Pesach stuff… Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that you need a massive pantry large enough to satisfy all your hungry family members, their friends and the loads of guests that filter in and out of the house.
And obviously, the kitchen should feature a gorgeous, practical design that allows you quick, easy access to more food and items than Pharoah managed to stockpile during the seven years of plenty!
Pretty & practical
The vast majority of model kitchens on my Kitchen Pinterest board don’t apply to our clients because they tend to be too small, don’t accommodate half of what I just listed above, and the materials used to build them aren’t always practical. Attractive, bright and spacious they are…but they don’t necessarily meet the needs of my particular customers who can’t overlook the fact that they need top cabinets!
As you’ve probably guessed, designing a traditional Jewish -“frum” kitchen is a real challenge. But one that I love!
Believe me, creating that dream kitchen to encompass aesthetics, functionality and maximal use of space is no less challenging than…interpreting a dream.
interior design: Aviva Loberbaum photo: Meitav Imas