In a twist on one of my ongoing "What's in your fridge?" columns, where we take a journey through the shelves of some poor sot's... I mean some interesting character's fridge, I tip the idea on its head and ask this: what is your fridge?
It all stems from an intriguing package I received in the mail recently from a loyal reader. No, it wasn't my mom and, yes, Canada Post still matters, and not just to pensioners who are mailed their cheques, despite tweets and digital chatter to the contrary.
After reading my latest "What's in your fridge?" column that featured the "what-the-hell fridge" of Grant and Hilarie Cousar - an intrusive thing partially covered in green wood panelling that protrudes into their kitchen like a monolith, causing friends to comment, what the hell...? - Jean-Louis Brussac of Coquitlam, also known as JL, bundled up a bunch of photos of kitchens from around the world along with a nice letter. JL, who is a long-time visitor to Whistler and a regular reader of Pique Newsmagazine , had such a cool take on things, I phoned him for a chat, too.
Ever since he was a kid drawing houses, both interior and exterior spaces, JL has spent his whole life thinking about homes and how we use them; what works and what doesn't. He regularly visits real estate open houses, and has also worked in the Dordogne region of France, building and renovating homes.
"I enjoy reading your column," he started off in his letter, which, of course, got my attention, "even though I'm not much of a cook..." which grabbed it even more because my food column is dedicated to people who aren't cooks, and lord knows there are millions of us.
"But what made me laugh," he went on, "was the mention of the monster fridge with doors covered by wood panels matching the kitchen cupboards."
JL went on to explain that he is originally from Europe - Bordeaux, actually - where it's common to hide fridges with panelling that matches the kitchen cupboards. This creates an interesting effect: instead of the fridge dominating the room, as is so common in Canadian kitchens, the most visually arresting thing is the oven - the "hearth," that ancient archetype, symbol of all things warm and comforting.
"This [covering the fridge] is especially pleasing to homeowners who like a minimalist style or those at the other end of the style scale, who are nostalgic for their grandparents' kitchens," he writes. "There is no such thing as the style of the year, no matter what the designers try to flog.