Sometimes it’s hard to tell the practical from the artistic.  Eames and Bauhaus chairs. KitchenAid mixers that are making a comeback in all colors. Depression glass juicers.  At the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art  through December 1, 2013, Kathleen Thompson Hill’s exhibit of culinary gadgets and ephemera, “Kitchen Memories” is not only an exercise in the whimsical and practical, but an experience that will stimulate memories going back to your childhood.

In this video, Russ Johnson of The Connected Traveler interviews Kathleen Hill about antique kitchen gadgets going back as far as a 200 year-old juice squeezer.  I wandered the show and found gadgets and gizmos going back to my great grandmother’s time.  Nut grinders, rolling pins…and 1950’s Formica and metal kitchen tables. Plastic chairs that always cracked and split. You remember, the ones you dug your fingers into to “test” the stuffing underneath?

This coffee pot at the Kitchen Memories exhibit  just begged to be painted. (c) Pat Meier-Johnson

This coffee pot at the Kitchen Memories exhibit just begged to be painted. (c) Pat Meier-Johnson

Colors!  The designers at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art brought back the harvest golds and avocado greens to complement the exhibit.  I loved the daffodil yellow dining table and the celadon green glassware. The teal coffee percolator seen here that was atop an old O’Keefe & Merritt stove at the exhibit.

I found most interesting the evolution of kitchenware and appliances.  Never having committed to a Cuisineart or other brand of food processor, I was pleased to hear Kathleen say that chopping has come full circle.  You never see a food processor on a cooking show anymore, she says.  We’re back to knives. Some of the chopping utensils at the exhibit looked like something from a Middle Ages torture chamber. And judging from the nods in the museum audience where Kathleen talked about grinding one’s own meat and using manual potato mashers, we’re cooking with a lot more elbow grease these days.

I agree.  Mash those potatoes.  Roll that dough. Cry over those chopped onions.  Food tastes better the way the women in my family made it, from great grandmother’s apple strudel and dumplings to grandma’s homemade soup (that pressure cooker always scared me) to Mom’s luscious chicken ragout I never grew tired of.

Sweet memories indeed.

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