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Are you out of your gourd? This was the question my father would pose when he saw you doing something completely, obviously, utterly and undeniably crazy. I never remember what I was doing at the time, but how could you forget a question like that? My gourd? The dried green and yellow crook-necked and other squashes that sat atop the hexagonal coffee table in the fall, beside the rust-colored couch? Out of it? Dunno? Maybe?

This is the question you may be posing yourselves right now. Am I out of my gourd? Or more aught-eight styley, um… what’s up with the matchboxes. Crazy much?

You see, dear reader. I have been perpetrating a lie. I have often referred to my kitchen as match-box sized. I traded that moniker for altoid-tin sized for a week or two but they’re really not as well-known as matchboxes, and my kitchen definitely has no hinges. Really it’s much more old school than an altoid tin (stove, circa 1945!), so I decided go back to the old name.

When I’m not describing in terms of cajitas de fósforos (matchboxes) I have what I like to call, “the world’s smallest kitchen.” Technically I know this is not true, as there are people in the world whose kitchen is an open fire and the fired clay and occasional metal pots they hang over it. And then there’s the galley kitchen people, who have one wall in their studio apartments given over to kitcheny things. But I have a room, with a door, and they call it a kitchen.

And for a thing called a kitchen, my goodness is it ever small.

So back to my lies. I have always said that my kitchen is the size of a box of matches. Surely you knew this was hyperbole. But how hyperbolic is it, exactly?

Without resorting to protractors and compasses and other tiny inplements of math better left with the seventh graders, I have done a somewhat unscientific accounting of how big the floorspace in my kitchen is. I have done this by counting the fully exposed floor “tiles” (made of a mysterious substance which has no known way to clean it, buff it, or shine it to my satisfaction). Of these I count 17. And then I did a little matchbox surgery, so we could see just how much of a liar I am.

As you can see, each kitchen tile is 5.5 by 3.5 matchboxes. I didn’t want you to think that I was making up the halves. So I somewhat neatly sawed the boxes in half. The ones where I went lengthwise I left the matches in during the procedure, but in the crosswise one I figured I’d save myself the trouble and take the matches out. Plus half matches would be harder to strike, I think.

So as you can see, my kitchen is not, in fact the size of a matchbox. It is 5.5 X 3.5 matchboxes, for a total of 19.25 matchboxes per tile, times 17 tiles for a total of 327.25 matchboxes. Please forgive me for not having had 327.25 matchboxes on hand for the photo shoot.

For mere mortals, who choose not to calculate in terms of matchboxes, or who are anti-fire, let me do the calculations for you in inches. The tiles are about 8X8 inches. This means the usable space on which a human can stand (if she doesn’t mind being back against the wall or bellied up to the stove) is 7.56 square feet. By comparison, if you lay a hefty bag on the ground, it takes up 6.88 square feet. Can you imagine trying to cook a meal in a space just a breath bigger than a trash bag?

The thing is, I do it. And with vigor. I’ve made cakes, cookies, scones, jam, biscuits, soups, casseroles, bread, bagels, yogurt, cheese, empanadas, pies and everything in between in this tiny space. We have a love-hate relationship, the kitchen and I. And necessarily, we have an arrangement whereby the refrigerator and the dishes live outside.

Here are some more pictures of the gigantic, window-free and space-limited 327.25-matchbox-sized kitchen, so you can gauge its capaciousness for yourself.

The whole thing. Please notice mintgreen trim on antiquated but mostly fully-functional 2-burner stove.

Here’s where we get the nibbles. The yogurt containers have beans n things, and sadly, I finished the Toddy (Brazilian Quik) yesterday.

And if you are worried about the cleanliness of my kitchen, I can put you in touch with my mother, whose sink is scoured every night before she goes to bed. And if you are my mother, it was lovely talking to you last night and don’t worry, my gourd is fine. It’s on the stove with onions and garlic. Well-cooked.

And because it turns out that I am not alone in measuring A in terms of B, I present to you the following: You can measure your baking supplies in terms of dinosaur brains. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Thanks H, via the US, Sweden, Ireland, and mostly Stumbleupon.