Expat Kitchens – the good, the bad and the ugly

Miss Footloose’s post on her bizarre new kitchen (and bathroom) in Moldova, got me thinking about the sheer number and variety of kitchens I’ve lived with while we were overseas.

The first one in Azerbaijan had a magnificent floor, and the cupboards weren’t bad, but the oven didn’t work and the fridge wouldn’t get colder than 13C in summer.  And let’s not talk about the cockroaches and those ghastly pink wall tiles which were covered with layers of grease when we arrived.

Kitchen number 2 in Azerbaijan was a huge improvement.  It was literally the apartment above the old one, so essentially the same layout, but soooo much nicer and with brand new appliances that actually worked!

Kitchen number 1 in Dubai was in villa and certainly was large enough.  But which bright spark decided on the white floor tiles?  With a constant trickle of sand blowing in under the ill-fitting door, all it took was a few drops of water to turn it into mud.  That floor was never clean for longer than 5 minutes (during which this photo was taken).

Our kitchen in Cairo was as lovely as it looks . . . apart from the complete lack of air conditioning.  The landlord told us we were supposed to have a maid to cook for us, hence no need for air conditioning in this room.  Unfortunately it was me who was literally sweating over a hot stove.

Dubai kitchen number 2 was the largest kitchen I’ve ever had.  It was so big that I never did fill all the cupboards and so some were given over to spare bedding and hobby supplies.  It had a great view facing west with some fabulous sunsets.

Dubai kitchen number 3 was a lot smaller, but open plan to the living and dining room, which I liked.  I hate being shut away in another room when I’m cooking as I like to be able to chat and socialize while I chop and stir.

Last one – kitchen number 4 in Dubai (yes, we moved a lot).  This was the smallest of all.  So small in fact that there were more appliances than cupboards.  It’s a good job the supermarket was only a 5 minute walk away as I really couldn’t store more than a day or two’s food at a time.

Interestingly, whether well or poorly equipped, large or small, I still managed to turn out pretty much the same meals without too much difficulty.  A valuable lesson learned, now that we’re contemplating renovating our kitchen in Canada because now I know that spending thousands on fancy layouts and equipment will do nothing to improve my cooking skills!

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9 thoughts on “Expat Kitchens – the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. Love this post! :) Interesting to see all your kitchens in Dubai. Our ENTIRE house is nothing but white tile! (and white walls!) I thought this was the norm in Dubai until I started going to other people’s houses and saw that they actually have hardwoods and different colors of tile. In addition to white floors and walls in our kitchen, we also have white appliances and white countertops. It’s crazy! It’s so big that we did our pinata for my son’s birthday in there. Definitely not the coziest place. And I agree – I hate having a kitchen that is isolated from the rest of the house. The floor in your Azerbaijan kitchen is beautiful! and the Cairo kitchen looks amazing. You are such a trooper for enduring no A/C in a place as hot as Egypt!

    • Thank you :) Dubai kitchens have improved immensely since we first arrived in 2000. I am still amazed though, that the world over so many kitchens are designed by people who obviously don’t cook in them, lol!

  2. You can say that again Judy! I’ve moaned and groaned about my huge kitchen in Kuwait and every apartment n villa we’ve looked at (to move to) has been dysfunctional in one way or another! Just as bad or worse. So hubby says we’re not moving just so I can start complaining again after one week. LOL. But ur right, for the last 8 years we’ve turned out great meals everyday from our kitchen. Hmmmm..I should write my own blog post about my kitchen experience ;)

  3. Oh, now I wish I’d had the foresight to take pictures of all my many expat kitchens! What a fun post. I’ve just moved to Moldova to a new house that is beautifully finished but has the strangest layout and fixtures. My kitchen is miniscule and has no drawers for utensils and it is driving me nuts! The floor is white and black tile that shows every drop of water and is dirty the moment you start washing or chopping.

    One thing you learn is what works and doesn’t work in a kitchen (or a house) after you move so many times, so that if you ever have the chance to design/build your own house, you know what’s good or bad. But it is not the easiest education ;)

  4. What a fantastic idea for a post and how fortunate that you took pictures of them all! Love it, makes me a little less resentful of my current kitchen. I’m in Canada (just down the road from Tdot in Whitby) so it’s not exactly primitive but that didn’t stop me missing my kitchen from my dream house back home in England! Stil, I’m over it now… there’s more to life than cupboard space and flash sinks ;-)

    • Glad to hear you are settling in and so nice to connect with an (almost) neighbour :) I too am a transplanted Brit (but ahead of you by about 30 years). Anytime you venture into big, bad TO, let me know and we can meet in the real world too.

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