Dispatches From the South – Like a Kitchen, Only Smaller

I’m standing outside my kitchen door trying to imagine American-sized appliances in there. Currently, we have a washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer and a stove in there. The reason I’m standing out here trying to imagine it is, if they were all American-sized, I can’t imagine being able to fit in there with them. And my kitchen is unusual only in that it is relatively large; when we briefly considered moving, we viewed two-story houses that had less space than our flat, and the kitchens were tiny.

To be fair, I have been in some houses that have kitchens the size of the ones I remember from the US, but they are the exception. The new flats they are chucking up all over the southeast—lovingly referred to as breezeblock barracks—have kitchen half the size of ours.

But for all that, I have few complaints. Despite the fact that all of the appliances measure about 20 inches wide and fit under the kitchen counters, they are plenty big enough. Seriously, American fridges might be big, but they are mostly filled with crap, and you really don’t want to go poking around in the hidden depths for fear of what you might find. And, as a single man in the States, when I kept my fridge clutter-free, it simply looked pathetic holding only a six-pack of Corona, a bottle of milk and some left over pizza.

Our freezer actually holds more than my American freezer did, and the washer and dryer, though they can’t hold nearly as much as an American washer/dryer, are adequate if used intelligently.

But the stove—this malevolent electric monster too small to hold a full-sized turkey and with only two temperature settings (not hot enough, and way too hot)—has been the bane of our existence since moving in. And I doubt it’s suddenly going to get any better. I can see it now, sitting there at the end of the counter, just waiting to inflict more mischief on me. On those few occasions when we do cook a large dinner, things have to be cooked in shifts, so the food is either burned, cold or still on the stove being heated up. We use the microwave a lot.

Fortunately, even imagining it stuffed full of major appliances, I can still reach around the door way and fetch a beer out of the fridge. I think I’ll do that now and continue my ruminations from the safety of the balcony.


  1. avatarLisa says

    I also hate our cooker, even though it works fine, whoever lived here before must never have cleaned it for a decade and it has an eye-level “grill” which is constantly in my way. I cook a lot and I’m always obstructed by the grill when trying to transfer things between different pans and it creates many messes and headaches.

    Anyway, my husband and I went to check out new cookers and by the end of the shopping trip I was so frustrated I threw in the towel and came home empty handed. See there is a law that any new gas cookers installed in a flat must now have a flame safety device installed. Even though this law is now about two years old, the manufacturers haven’t caught up and only make a few models with the FSD which are conveniently way out of our price range or very basic and unattractive.

    I don’t get the point behind passing a safety law that only applies to flats. Basically, its perfectly legal to have a defective cooker and kill yourself and your family in your own house, its just illegal to do it in a flat and kill yourself and other people. I think if they were going to pass a law for safety in homes, why not make it apply to everyone and require all new cookers to have this safety device?

    Cooker rant over.

  2. avatar says

    I’ve gotten used to the small kitchens in London in the flats I lived in. But when we bought our house in London last year, I was dismayed at the sight of our kitchen. It was the size of a six-seater dining room table…no joke. A seriously small galley. Being someone who likes to cook and an American, it had to go…so we ripped it out walls and made it into a bigger one. But we still do not have the space for a dryer (chose to have more storage instead). But my cooker & hob…it’s a beauty – six burners and a double oven (one large, one small). And I have a very good sized fridge/freezer. I’m in heaven in a kitchen for the first time in my six years in London.

  3. avatar says

    Lisa: our cooker is the bain of our existance. It is such a horror to try to cook with. Even after all this time i still can’t get it to do anything but burn food. We don’t have the option of gas so we’re stuck electric.

    Laine: I’m jealous ;)

  4. avatarWendymm says

    I had no problem adjusting to the Brit appliances except for the refrigertor under the counter. I spent way too much time on the floor getting things in and out. Shopping was a bummer too and expensive because of the several times a week trips to the grocers.

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