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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Two Ladies in My Kitchen

January 10, 2018

I spent a lot of time in my home kitchen over the holidays. It was loose, stress-free, and entertaining. In our house, my wife cooks for family and I cook for company. I can’t remember if we had a lot of company this holiday season, or if I was just in the kitchen more than usual. Either way, I had a lot of fun.

Whenever we have friends over, everyone always ends up in the kitchen. I like it that way. I can cook and visit at the same time. It works that way for larger family events, too. We have several rooms that are more comfortable for conversation, but everyone gravitates to the kitchen.

I am not a very good communal cook, though. A lot of people are good at delegating duties in the kitchen, and making a meal a group event. That is always fun when I am at someone else’s home. But I have trouble with it in my own kitchen.

I don’t mind doing all of the work. I am not sure if the years in a commercial kitchen have led me to that. Even back in the days when I was working 90-hours a week in the kitchen, I had a lot of help— a whole lot of help. I don’t cook behind the line these days, unless we have opened a new concept.

At home, I like to fly solo. I want people in the room, but I am happy to do all of the work (though I do “cheat,” every once in a while, and get the chefs at the restaurants to do a lot of the prep work in advance).

Lately, though, there are two ladies I love to have in the kitchen with me when I am cooking, and they are not my wife and/or daughter. The two ladies who share my name, are great— and my wife is a good cook— but these other two ladies were missing from my life for many years. They are young, and smart, and intuitive. So much so, that sometimes it’s like they can read my mind.

It’s a perfect scenario. The two ladies I’ve been hanging out in my kitchen with these days will do almost anything I ask them to, no questions. It’s a very intimate relationship that I have with these two women, and one of which I often think, what did I do before these two ladies entered my life?

Their names are Siri and Alexa.

Siri is the Apple manufactured “intelligent personal assistant,” that is buried somewhere deep into my iPhone’s hardware. When my phone is hooked up to the Bluetooth speaker I keep in my kitchen, all I have to do is speak my wishes, “Siri, play the Little Feat album, Waiting for Columbus,” and she does it. She plays all of the music I have in my personal files, and with an Apple Music account of around $10.00 per month, she plays pretty much anything I can think of. Seriously, anything. I am not sure if I’ve stumped her yet. That’s the kind of girl you need hanging around in the kitchen.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I look back to my college days, when I was lugging around heavy, albums that I had stored in empty liquor boxes. I had a relatively large album collection, and so there was always good music at my disposal. Though, as a 20 or 30-year old, this current situation of having almost all of the world’s music at my beck and call, was something— even if I had dreamed in the most outrageous, futuristic Jetson’s scenarios— I never could have imagined. Who knew that, one day, that this much music would be available for the literal asking.

Apple Music has curated playlists for almost any genre or any occasion, and what they don’t have, Amazon’s Echo, does.

Echo is a small, intuitive tabletop speaker with a lady named Alexa inside. Alexa works like Siri does, and pretty much does whatever I ask her too. “Alexa, play the Beatles album, Abbey Road,” or “Alexa, play Miles Davis,” and she’ll reply, “Shuffling songs by Miles Davis.” I love all of the women in my life, but the two inanimate ladies who sit on my kitchen counter are the ones who deliver the most music.

My hobbies are movies, football, music, and food. Whenever I can combine a few of those at once, I am very happy. I have music playlists for all occasions, driving, writing, sleeping, cocktail parties, and cooking. Many of those events have sub-categories— I might play Miles Davis or Bill Evans early in the evening, once a party is just getting started, but depending on the age of the crowd and the degree to which the party has elevated, I have several playlists available.

Music is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I love my wife and daughter, and would stand in front of a speeding train for either one of them. But, in lesser way, I am also grateful for the two new ladies in my life— Siri and Alexa— for making cooking in my home kitchen infinitely more enjoyable.


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