Cooking Up Luck in the Kitchen
The position and layout of a kitchen may affect health, wealth, and family harmony at home. A happy, calm cook means good food, good moods, and good fortune.
Water and Mirrors:
If you are fortunate enough to have a view of water, which also symbolizes money to the Chinese, a mirrored back splash will symbolically draw more wealth into the cooking process. For more information on mirrors as cures, see Interior Design with Feng Shui ( pages 21-22) or Feng Shui Design (page 40).
According to feng shui, if all is well in the kitchen, all is well in the family. One of the most important rooms in a home, in feng shui terms, the kitchen is viewed as a source of wealth and harmony for the family. In the kitchen, the stove is crucial as it, too, is associated with wealth.
For example, in one railroad apartment on New York’s Lower East Side, a restaurant food buyer was seeking to improve his fortunes. His stove, however, was sited to position him at a disadvantage. This we cured with the installation of a mirror as a backsplash and a wind chime to disburse ch’i flow. What amazed me, however, was that even though food was his profession, the four-burner stove was encrusted with nearly an inch of caked-on grease and grime.
Four thoughts crossed my mind. What did this say, ultimately, about his attitude toward his chosen career? What did it say about his cleanliness standards? And what did it say about his prospects for wealth? Lastly, I hoped he wouldn’t ask me to dinner.
Health and Wealth
While the reputed cleanliness of Chinese restaurants is sometimes the butt of jokes, the proprietors are still aware that the Chinese word for food, ts’ai (pronounced “tsigh”), sounds the same as their word for wealth. Their logic about the food-wealth connection follows a positive cycle: food feeds our bodies, nourishes our minds, and fuels our effectiveness and stamina. If the food is fresher and more nutritional, we will be more productive and capable of earning more money — allowing us to buy better and higher- quality food. The reverse, the Chinese feel, is also true: if we can only afford poor food, our own performance and, therefore, finances, will suffer.
The need for the chef of the household to have a good vantage point when preparing food is both physically and psychologically practical. The Chinese take great pains to avoid being startled in any situation. For instance, they say if you are surprised when cooking, a nervous chain reaction is set off. Let’s say your spouse hugs you when you are preparing dinner and your back is turned. This may startle you while you’re chopping vegetables with a sharp knife or cooking over a hot stove. Because of the surprise and the potential of making a sudden movement or being distracted with a knife or a hot pan, your temper might flare, causing your ch’i to become jumpy. In turn, your reaction might affect your relationship that night and reverberate at your or your spouse’s office the next day, affecting both your career and your family relationship.
Placing a mirror or reflective aluminum as a backsplash, or on the sidewall of a cramped stove, serves a number of purposes. First, the mirror reflects anyone entering, so the cook will be calmer, happier, and less nervous and jumpy. Second, the mirror symbolically doubles the number of burners and the amount of food/money (ts’ai) being prepared, so earnings will expand. If the stove faces a windowed wall, though good scenery is pleasant for the cook to admire, you should still install a reflective strip or mirror to deflect the doorway or hang a wind chime or crystal in line with the stove and the door.
While I don’t have wind chimes inside or outside my home, they can be useful cures to both businesses and homes. One of the nine basic cures, wind chimes both move and make sound. They can help moderate or disburse strong ch’i flow in long corridors, from threatening roads, or in between a front door directly facing a back door. The sound of wind chimes can draw attention and positive ch’i to a business.
Kitchen Position in the Home
The position of a kitchen within a home is also important. We have already seen in Lesson 3 that you should avoid having a kitchen in a wing that juts in front of the front-door line, or you or your spouse will constantly eat out and one of you will ultimately stay away. You can cure this by hanging a mirror inside the main part of the house facing the kitchen to symbolically draw it back into the home.
Your kitchen should be well-ventilated, preferably with a window. A cramped kitchen in the middle of the house along a central meridian is undesirable, as you may fall ill along the central meridian of your own body. If your kitchen is narrow or if an oven or microwave sits above your cook top, the main cook will feel oppressed and peevish, and family fortunes will dwindle. A large, well-ventilated kitchen, however, is fine if it sits in the center of the house — you will have room to move comfortably and will be able to advance nicely in your life and finances.
You can cure a narrow kitchen by hanging a mirror behind the stove to symbolically increase the visual space, the number of burners, and the amount of food/money being prepared. Mirrors can be hung on the door to the kitchen, on the non-kitchen side, facing the outside room, and reflecting the kitchen away from the center. Then hang a wind chime above the chef’s station in front of the stove.
Relative room positioning can also affect you. It makes sense for a kitchen, for example, to be as close as possible to the dining room. However, an undesirable position for the kitchen is if it is close to or easily visible from the entry.
In nearly every home that I have visited for a feng shui consultation where the kitchen is near the entry, one or more family members suffer from being overweight. It might be the mother, the daughter, the son, or the father, but someone in the family of such a layout is very likely to be a binge eater.
If the first room you see is the kitchen, personal issues regarding food should come as no surprise. As your key turns in the lock — before you even enter your house — — you may already be thinking about food or experiencing hunger pangs and an irrational urge to eat. Upon entering, you will head straight for the fridge. Your home will be food-oriented and your children will be the most vulnerable and most likely to grow fat. They may be scolded because of excessive eating, their studies will suffer as they eat compulsively, and they may have to endure teasing from classmates.
Here are two situations to avoid in your kitchen
- A kitchen door should not directly face a bathroom, or earned money will be flushed away, and health and finances will suffer.
- Avoid positioning your stove or breakfast table underneath an overhead beam, or you will suffer financial losses, and lent money will not be repaid.
Learning More About Food:
We’ll only just touch on food in this course. If you’d like to understand more about color and food, refer to the book (not required for this course) Living Color: Master Lin Yun’s Guide to Feng Shui and the Art of Color. If you read nothing more on the subject, I have a feeling you will, nonetheless, look at your food a little differently the next time you sit down!
We Are What We Eat
In a kitchen, food — the colors, tastes, aromas, and nutrition — is an important feature for creating positive ch’i in the environment and in our bodies. The Chinese equate food with health. They say that a good, nutritious diet should also appeal to the senses. They evaluate food dishes using three criteria: color, fragrance, and flavor.
While it’s obvious that taste and delicious aromas whet the appetite, color and its visual impact on food affect our ch’i. The color of food can attract ch’i, encouraging us to eat. The Chinese feel the positive combinations of food colors can entice our appetite and improve our ch’i, influencing our health, business, and career. So naturally, a meal should be visually satisfying. If, for instance, a meal tastes and smells delicious, but is doused in soy sauce or presented in a monochrome of brown mushrooms and brown meat, the food will not appeal to us.
Colors of the food we prepare should be varied and lively: white fish with red tomatoes or peppers and green scallions, for instance.
Assignment: Cooking Up Luck in the Kitchen
Kitchens can be loaded with “issues” for many people: weight issues, feelings of obligation to cook rather than excitement, feelings of isolation, etc. For others, the kitchen is a source of joy. What feelings does your kitchen stir up in you? Head to your kitchen now and think about those feelings as you answer the following questions. I hope you have that handy notepad with you.
- Is your kitchen a source of family harmony, or does it fan the flames of discord?
- Do you need a mirrored backsplash, or do you need to order take-out?
- Are there cupboards or microwaves looming above your head as you work?
- Are you able to see people entering and exiting the kitchen, or are you “blind” to activity in the kitchen as you cook or prepare food?
- When you next prepare a meal, think about creating an appetizing meal using the tastes and colors of the food.