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Grandmere’s Kitchen in Continvoir

The grandmother of Patrick Texier in Algiers.
Louisa Marteau Texier, Patrick's grandmother, in Algiers.

“My grandmother Louisa, on my father's side, lived in a small house in the village of Continvoir, where I was born. My sister and I spent some Easter vacations there. My other grandmother came along to help.”

Thus begins the 200-word essay that Patrick wrote in response to the prompt to"write about a kitchen."

Writing prompts are useful. They're also fun. Part of the fun is hearing what other folks write in response. The essay continues:

“Continvoir is in the Loire Valley. It's called la douce France (‘sweet France’).

“The house had no central heating. We were relying on coal stoves in the two bedrooms of the ground floor. The toilet was in the courtyard and inhabited by spiders the size of soup plates. The water came from a pump in the kitchen; you had action up and down. The sink was a slab of stone, hollowed to serve the purpose. It was set in a dark alcove on the left of the stove.

“In the kitchen, right in the middle of the room, you see the massive black cast-iron stove with a zinc pipe for the smoke.

“On the right was the stairway to the attic and two frigid bedrooms, without heat at all. My sister and I went to bed with a hot brick wrapped in a bath towel.

“In front of the stove were a small table and four chairs.

“On the right wall, there was a small window overlooking the tiny barbecue where my grandmother was grilling the best steaks I ever had. She was buying a very special cut called araignée (spider). It had almost no shape, but it was f….g good and tender. They were cooked with a salt crust, which we removed before eating. Behind the stove there was a massive fireplace, never used.

“Against the left wall was a massive antique cupboard containing the kitchen utensils and a door leading to the tiny dining room.

“No bathroom. You had to wash in the sink; once a week you could take a bath in an open shed in the rear. You had to bring the water with buckets—cold from the pump, hot from the stove!

“The kitchen was the room where everyone had all their meals, except when we were more than four.

“The setting may have been spartan, but we loved it.” —Patrick Texier


The Prompt: Write About a Kitchen

Think of a particular kitchen, one that you know intimately. Use all of your senses to bring that kitchen to life. The kitchen can be imaginary, if you like; the trick is to be very specific. You might write, for example, about:

  • Your mother's kitchen

  • Your grandmother's kitchen

  • The most primitive kitchen you ever saw

  • The kitchen of your dreams

  • The worst kitchen ever

  • The kitchen where you worked as a teenager

  • The kitchen that furnished your school lunch

  • The kitchen where something wonderful, or terrible, happens.

As you write, recall that kitchen with all your senses: Its smells, sounds, textures, odors.

Feel free to copy and paste your own 200-word essay intp the Comments section below (you gotta scroll way down).


For next time: Make something unexpected happen in that kitchen. Include the words "One day," and "Oh, no."


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