"Delicious, isn't she," sighs Oleg Kitchen, as he observes his wife from his perch atop the wicker stool beside the garlic press, his celery green Marimekko trousers and tie-dyed t-shirt lending him more the appearance of a young Greek sailor than of the 55-year-old chief of psychiatric services he is or, rather was, unitl he "chucked it all" for the "very special, very private" life now shared with Frigga Kitchen. She, doused in sunlight, from the kitchen skylight, hums a Finnish folk song as she deheads a red snapper -- "You cannot find this outside the Bahia" -- in preparation for the evening's peixada . "The Kitchen is our life," Oleg continues. "All we have is here."
Which, from the looks of some 400 square feet of polished blond wood floors and tables, the blond wood jars and spoons, the blond wood butcher blocks and blond wood beams, from which hangs "perhaps the most comprehensive aspci mold collection in the East," is plenty. "we make our own napkins," adds Frigga. "And our own salt." She has gracefully sidled over to a bowl marked Zuppa Iglese. Her hair, the color of blond wood, is garnished with a sprig of thyme.
This remarkable kitchen almost fills the entire house of the Kitchens, who have "ruthlessly brushed aside" the original walls of their 18th-century salt box to make room for what they call "our shrine to cooking, eating and mutual respect." No longer regarding the living room as the center of the home, they have simply done without it, as they also have done without a library and even a dining room. "They are not separate things, the preparation and consumption," Oleg states emphatically, barely missing the Salton yogurt-maker with his fist. "Why have separate places for them? As for the living room" -- he gestures expansively with a paring knife as he starts to stuff the tufoli -- "that was the old life" (a veiled reference, we believe, to his six former marriages). "This is freedom."
"And honesty," Frigga adds quitely, leafing through her copy of "Cold Cuts of the Arctic."
Honesty above all," Oleg agrees, tenderly lowering a deveined shrimp into the mouth of the former Finnair hostess andindustrial spy.
The Kitchens have made their new home in the heart of sumputuous Kitchen Synchs, the recently developed "total community" near Rye, N. Y. Everyone within the community is recently remarried -- "reborn really" -- Oleg tells us; is also a gourmet chef; and has been the subject of at least one life-at-home article in a newspaper or magazine. The residents take great pride in their kitchens, and make a point of dropping in on each other once or twice a day to compliment some goody simmering on the stove. As we are admiring the Belgian wire whisk that Frigga swears was once the property of Paul Bocuse, a neighboring couple, Art and Haute Cuisine, who look astonishingly like the Kitchens themselves, stop by in tears to report the theft of a pair of tarragon driers they had lucked into in Barcelona. And there is much saddened head-shaking over the fact that theft is not unknown in Kitchen Synchs.
"You see," Frigga explains after the Cuisines have departed, seriously shaken, "there is nothing else of real value in a place like this. To us the kitchen is not merely functional; it is [here she flounders in Finnish until Oleg provides, "spiritual"]. Exactly so," Frigga continues, "spiritual. That is why Oleg and I do everything in the kitchen, why we rarely leave, for any reason."
At that we chuckle, and ask teasingly if they sleep in the kitchen, too.
"But of course," they answer as one, to our delighted surprise. Oleg indicates several bright pots scattered on hot trays about the room. "Some of these dishes take days to prepare. You don't want to let them out of your sight for a minute."
Yet Frigga shakes an apple corer scoldingly at her husband. "Tell the truth, Oleg. It's not because we really need to watch the pots that we live in the kitchen. It's because we love each other, and we love the kitchen. Is that not so?" Whereupon Oleg hurls aside the colander, nearly toppling La Machine, and sweeps his wife into his arms as if she were a freshly baked scone. "You are right, my beet, as usual," he says. And they do a little two-step, which they call the dance of the shucked oysters, leaving us to wonder aloud if such a pair could ever become bored.
"Bored?" asks Oleg
"Bored?" asks Frigga.
They laugh like sparkling water from the center of the earth.