Ellen Silverman, who often photographs food for magazines and books like Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter, captured the Cuban kitchen in her personal series, Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen. You can see some of her beautiful photographs in What Our Kitchens Might Say About Us.
Most of the time, I've always thought food itself really did the job in exposing a culture. But as much as certain dishes or the art of dining over great conversation with family and friends have been highlighted as indicators of how people live, has anyone ever looked at where it all begins? Silverman's pictures of where food is prepared show so much. It's amazing to see the potential a kitchen with a single- or double-burner portable stove and very little counter space, located inside or outside, or along side a chicken, can have. The thing is, a meal cooked up on a single burner stove seems much more impressive, and authentic, and even without tasting it, more delicious.
A couple months ago, I had the privilege of going "back home" to the Philippines with my parents. Here are a few photos of the Filipino kitchen:
The pictures above were taken at my Lola's kitchen in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. She has a bunch of chickens and geese, as well as acres of rice fields in her backyard.
These pictures above were taken in the backyard of where my father grew up in Santa Cruz, Zambales. My dad, who was originally named Victor in 1946, after MacArthur's victories drove the Japanese out of the Philippines. The metal walls that line this outdoor kitchen were used as landing strips for the US Airforce to land safely on the sandy terrain of the Santa Cruz beaches. After the war, American troops left behind the scrap metals, and my Lola used them anywhere she could find a use: fences, walls, etc.
Also photographed in the Santa Cruz kitchen is our yaya, Manang. She can really work a double-burner stove. I wish you could taste it.