Friday, March 16, 2012

What is a Paleo/Primal Kitchen?

The question of how to stock a primal or paleo pantry is a common one... and each of our answers are a little different.  While we all stock our fair share of meat and vegetables, the details start to vary from there on.  But what about the actual kitchen itself?
I imagine the original paleo kitchen was pretty simple: a fire, a knife and maybe a flat stone that could be heated and cooked on... maybe a mortar and pestle.  Even looking back a mere hundred years or so, most people would be lost in a kitchen circa the turn of the 20th century.  No ice or filtered water dispensed from the refridgerator door?  No dial on the oven to meter the temperature inside?  No food processor?  No microwave? 

Just as the human diet has changed and evolved over the centuries, so have the kitchens we use.  I started thinking about how and why...

Some of the kitchen's evolutationary changes are driven by necessity.  I don't (have to) hunt for meat on a daily basis.  But while I can stock up and buy meat for a month or so... I need a freezer to store it in.  Likewise with vegetables and fruits, I can gather a week's worth of produce at once and keep it in the drawers of my refrigerator.  In a sense, we're still hunter-gatherers... we've just changed how we go about those activities.

But what about the changes that are driven only by convenience?  They're not always a bad thing.  Steak knives rock.  The food processor saves me loads of time (and possibly injury).  My microwave comes in pretty handy for quickly heating up water to steep tea in and reheating food that I made earlier in the week.  But aside from those two functions, I've been racking my brain and can't think of any other use I have for my microwave.

Since changing the way I feed myself, I've added a grease strainer/keeper and a butter crock to my kitchen arsenal.  Some of my tools have been repurposed. I use my "ice cream" scoop to portion meatballs.  Ultimately, half of the stuff in my cabinets has become irrelevant to me.  My toaster?... nothing to toast.  The juicer (in the far reaches of the cabinet above the fridge)?... not going to strip down my fruit/veg.  Cabinets filled with more storage containers than I need (probably not even all mine) and drawers stuffed with more gadgets than I use (... A local charity is about to get an interesting box of donated goods).  And then there is the pantry.  A quarter of it is spices, seasonings and oils.  Another quarter is canned fish, nuts, dried fruit and tea.  And half of it is empty.

I used to have a vision of the perfect kitchen... probably not unlike one in a newly built model home.  Spacious counters, cabinet space galore and a ginormous pantry.  Room for all of my appliances and tools.  But the more I think about it, the less I think I need. 

If you've made the transition to a paleo or primal lifestyle, how has your kitchen changed?  Is there anything you no longer use?  What tools and implements have you added?  Is these anything "new" you can no longer live without?

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