creating a wabi sabi kitchen
The wabi sabi approach to choosing crockery and kitchen equipment requires a change of attitude to one that embraces Zen ideology. In a wabi sabi kitchen you would not look for a sterile, pristine, shiny kitchen with everything in the right place but something that is more earthy, organic and tactile.
Interestingly research indicates that eating food that is too clean and drinking water that is too pure may make us more susceptible to food poisoning and allergies as our intestines and immune system loose the ability to regularly work with a range of bacteria and viruses.
The kitchen would ideally be a place you would feel tranquil and calm and most importantly a room you would want to spend time in. In an age of pre-packed meals and processed foods it helps to get biologically closer to nature by preparing your own meals using whole living ingredients.
The wabi sabi mentality does not recognise the need for matching sets. Using your intuition and creativity you can mix styles and materials at a table setting. Different sizes, textures and designs all add to the interest and atmosphere of the eating area. In a family you can let each member choose his or her favourite dishes. When inviting guests you can intuitively choose the crockery you think best suits each friend. This will be more interesting for each person than everyone having the same matching set of plate, bowl and cutlery.
chips and cracks
Try to re-orientate your mind to accept chips and cracks as part of the aging process of your crockery. The obvious exception to this is anything that results in a sharp dangerous edge, for example a chipped glass, and these should be discarded or ground down to make safe.
crazing and yellowing
Glazes can craze with age adding an attractive patina to a plate or bowl, whites will yellow and colours fade. In addition to reflecting the passing of time these items take on a special appearance that can only come through age.
Resist the temptation to ‘lay’ the table. Look for ways to intuitively place items in a way that is functional and yet does not follow an obvious pattern.
individuality and craftsmanship
Wabi sabi objects would generally be hand made and demonstrate an easy uncontrived appearance. Ideally each piece would be recognisably individual and even better might show something of the maker’s identity, a small flaw or certain mark. Looking at the object you would hope to gain some insight into its maker.
The classic wabi sabi tea pot would be of a simple design and made leaving a rough, textured surface. Look for tea pots with a functional shape but made of a material that feels interesting and perhaps has a texture that holds your gaze, something meditative.
There is no need to have a matching set and here you can mix mugs with cups and saucers. Indeed the saucers do not need to match the cups. Typical wabi sabi styles would be simple, earthy and hand made.
Traditional Japanese cooking employs an iron pot with a handle and wooden lid. This simple pot is ideal for soups, stews and grain or bean dishes. Season the inside with oil to resist rust. The heaviness and course finish of the pot helps give your food that rural, simple but satisfying feel.
Cast iron frying pans will bring more of a wabi sabi feel to your kitchen. They tarnish and age well and give a more rustic feel to your cooking. Try to get a pan that is uncoated and season it yourself with oil.
wood plates and bowls
Wooden plates and bowls carry a more textured, mat, porous finish than glazed crockery and make for a simple surface to eat your food from. Also consider wooden utensils and chopsticks. Simple designs would best represent wabi sabi thinking. Rough clay bowls, dishes and plates Look out for interesting plates, bowls and serving dishes. These do not have to be round. You may find an attractive square plate or hexagonal bowl. Seek out designs that are asymmetrical and look out of balance. Simple, elegant dishes may help you feel in the mood for more healthy, natural foods. More modest, humble designs will let the food provide the colour and forms on your table.