By: OE, MO, & LC
Humans have been eating together since the beginning of humanity, at least since fire started to be used for cooking.
However mealtime was not always considered the same and developed over thousands of years.
From formal dinner to solo mealtime, social gathering are now starting a new beginning.
Back in the days, family mealtime was considered a tradition. It was a daily routine, served at a regular time and it was common that each family member had their assigned seat. The proper meal was, of course, homemade.
(photo courtesy of historyofeating.umwblogs.org)
Around the 17th century Kitchens in mansions were built as separated rooms and completely cut out from the rest of the house. They were designated as a “service area”.
With industrialization and the growth of middle class the kitchen got closer to the living quarter.
As the size of apartment didn’t leave much space, kitchens were not efficient and didn’t allow for entertaining at all.
Things started to change around mid 1920 when Shutte-Lihotzi introduced an efficient kitchen design in Frankfurt which became the standard for most 20th century apartments.
Around the same time, the architecture of Frank Loyd Wright also played a big role in the evolution of kitchen.
Indeed, his Prairies School houses and Usonian houses were credited to be one of the first examples of the “open plan” with living and dining area forming one space and allowing for more social interactions.
This new use of space also had social consequences, and allowed for other family members to use the kitchen, as apposed to only the women, as well as elevating the food preparation to a “fine art”.
Julia Child also helped to revolutionize the kitchen and the way people gravited around it. Indeed, she showed America that anyone could cook a perfect family meal and helped to develop the premises of community dinner with not only family, but also friends.
PRESENT AND FUTURE
Nowaday, very few Americans are having communal meals.
Studies says that” the average American eats one in five meals in the car, one in four eats at least one fast food meal every day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week”
However there’s a new turning in this century, and social media like Instagram, Pinterest or food blog help to transmit this new hobby that is cooking for others.
Food Tv shows are well developed and attracts thousands of viewers, fascinated by cooking.
Anyone can find recipes online, decide to reproduce it and cook for their friends or family and then share it.
There is even now Apps and websites dedicated to connecting foodies that are looking to get together and discover new recipes or even just to share their plates like EATWITH which allows you, in any city in the world to select a type of food (Italian,Indian..) then select a menu and table that you find attractive and share this menu with other people who, like you, selected it on the app.
Today, cooking is a way of becoming social again and open plans kitchen helps this evolution.
Indeed, years ago, people wouldn’t have had their dinner party guest join them in the kitchen while it was being prepared.
But now it is becoming more common and large kitchen plans with plenty of space for cooking, but also hosting are commonly ordered by homeowners.
A contemporary kitchen layout with the kitchen open to the dining area and family room. Project by Hyde Evans Design.
In the recent years community diners have become trendy, not very common, yet it is certainly rising.
Photo : Gabriel Harber
Recently in 2016, a 21 year old Columbia University student, Jonah Reider opened a restaurant, Pith, in his dorm room and quickly got a wait list of thousands of people eager to try his recipes.
If Reider didn’t have the space to welcome a lot of people in his dorm, other propose the same type of experience:
“Soul Kitchen Supper Club” or “Hidden kitchen” opened in Paris some years ago which brings strangers to eat together.
Over a 2 to 4 course meal people who subscribed to the waiting list can share a social experience in a welcoming environment: The apartment of the host.
Mostly hidden as the name of the concept suggest it, those “Underground” restaurants are certainly a revolutionary way to share a meal and are changing the future of kitchen.
A scene from a private dinner by Rachel Khoo
New designs and layouts have to be invented to permit the host to maximize the use of space and accommodate his guests, as well as being sufficiently efficient to cook for 6 to 12 people.
image Stamp, Elizabeth. “30 White Kitchen Design Ideas.” Editorial. Architectural Digest Jan. 2014
Drawer turning into a table :
Extendable kitchen Island :