If there’s one thing you must master if you want to be a successful Paris resident, it’s the art of tiny kitchen cooking. In a city where, when you rent an apartment « a fully equipped kitchen » probably just means that there’s a sink and maybe a cupboard, getting creative with our kitchen spaces is a true Parisian art!
When we moved into our first apartment here, the kitchen was completely empty except for a sink and an ancient dark brown wood cabinet that was practically hanging off of the wall. As people who love to cook this simply would not do! In true modern style we went and purchased every possible kitchen gadget we thought we would need, as well as the absolute necessities of oven, fridge and freezer. In our tiny TINY kitchen we managed to shove: oven, fridge freezer, microwave, dishwasher, coffee machine, toaster, kettle, pots, pans, utensils, a raclette machine and a huge array of other kitchen gadgets. So many gadgets and THINGS in fact, that we never ever used them because we simply didn’t have the space to get them out!
Now we’ve moved and have a little more space and I have learned my kitchen hoarder lesson. In our old apartment I was overwhelmed by things and I cooked far less and far less elaborate meals because I barely had the space to move. Not because our kitchen was small, but because it was cluttered. Yes, I still have a few kitchen gadgets (and I won’t be giving them up anytime soon!) but we’ve pared down and started using our space much much more creatively. My advice would be that if you can’t tidy it into a cupboard, you should be using it at least three to four times a week – and if you’re not using something three to four times a week, do you really need it?
Thinking about what you actually use your kitchen for is important here as well. Are you someone who really bakes, or did you just buy the whole range of Mary Berry bakeware after binge-watching four seasons of the Great British Bake Off? Do you actually like smoothies or do you own a Nutribullet because everyone on your Instagram feed seems to always have a green smoothie in hand? This sounds really obvious but we are all guilty of aspirational purchasing, and in a world that is obsessed with cooking and food plus social media…almost nowhere else is this more prevalent than in the kitchen.
Having said that, there are gadgets that make tiny kitchen life when you have a family much much easier. My slow cooker and the kitchen aid are the two things that spring to mind here (both were gifts that we thought about and asked for long in advance). The slow cooker is wonderful because honestly, batch cooking means less overall time spent in the kitchen, it means healthy food is always on hand with very little work and it only involves one pot – a huge plus for tiny spaces! Another reason the slow cooker is great is because in Parisian kitchens, there often isn’t space for an oven. I’ve been to great dinner parties where everything has been cooked using a table top hob and a slow cooker (including an amazing Thanksgiving with all the trimmings!)
If you have some steps to take to downsize into your Parisian sized kitchen, there’s three main points to consider:
- Prioritise: what are you cooking? What do you want your kitchen to look like? Work out what you really need – for us this involved getting rid of our microwave and coffee machine for starters.
- Declutter: really throw or give away everything you are not using every week. Exceptions include things like raclettes or large roasting dishes that are used when you have company. Get rid of duplicates, nobody needs three sets of salad spoons.
- Educate yourself. Learn how to cook great dishes with what you’ve got. There’s no use lusting after an oven if there’s just no space for one in your kitchen.
My kitchen still looks more cluttered than I’d like, but thankfully now that’s because I’m in there every single day using my stuff instead of being shut out by the overwhelming amount of things and lack of space. I hope some of this has been helpful and I’m sorry that sometimes the only answer when it comes to tiny apartment living is to have less stuff!
***Next in the Tiny Kitchen series, batch cooking and meal planning how to***