The importance of kitchens in the home environment today cannot be overstated though it wasn’t always the case in human history that they were so highly regarded. However, these extremely useful rooms used for food preparation and cooking have always existed in one form or another even if they were mainly a basic campfire made by the earliest human tribes and bands.
Scholars studying the development of technologies used in the home over the last several thousand years can tie the development of cook stoves and ranges to the concurrent development of the kitchen as we know it today. As those stoves became more sophisticated so too did the kitchens they sat in. Additionally, improvements in plumbing also contributed, though kitchens were still basic up until the’th century.
It was in the’th and’th centuries that the problem of food only being able to be cooked over an open fire was look at and solutions developed. When the stove was also improved so that food could be heated more efficiently, the basic layout and design of the kitchen was finally able to be changed. Until improvements in plumbing occurred, water also had to be brought in from the outside via buckets.
Today, we almost think of kitchens — if we do at all — as something of an afterthought. However, studying history will show that ancient civilizations had their own versions of kitchens, starting with the Greeks. Wealthier Greeks often had separate rooms where food preparation was carried out. Oftentimes, they were co-located with a bathroom so that both could share the heat from a single fire.
The Romans, as efficient as ever, arranged for large public kitchens to be built so that their common citizenry could take advantage of food heating technologies of the day. Romans and Greeks who were wealthy often had extremely well-equipped kitchens. Roman villas often featured separate rooms where a fireplace was kept constantly lit and food heated up and prepared over it. Pioneers in colonial America often would mark off a separate area in their cabins that they would refer to as the dining room or kitchen. Normally, the area was close to the fireplace where an open fire was kept burning to cook food and heat the cabin itself. It was some time before the classic kitchen developed and was placed into its own separate area of the home.
The development of kitchens in the West can probably be tied to the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which powered the inventions and solutions in cook stoves and ranges that allowed for the simultaneous development of the kitchen as we think of it today. Separate rooms were soon built where a stove and its heating elements, along with water from plumbing, could be located.
Today, kitchens can range from very sparse and small galley-type areas in equally small apartments up to some versions that are as large as the total living area in a colonial American home once was. They are a ubiquitous and vital part of almost every home in the West and are increasingly regarded as being extremely vital areas in most major regions in the world.