I’m really into kitchens

I’m really into kitchens. I’ve been collecting pictures of kitchens ever since I started my “real” reporting career. I’m not sure how it started, but it’s a practice that makes me feel more rooted to the place/ connected to the subjects of my stories. Sometimes when I’m reporting a complicated piece and my brain starts boiling over with anxiety about finding the “it” quotes and all the details I need for the story, I walk into kitchens. Being in a kitchen feels super intimate to me. It always reminds me to slow down – to remember that my sources’ lives are bigger than the story I’m hunting — that there’s so much more to this job than deliverables.

My favorite kitchen in Rwanda is at Christian’s girlfriend’s house, where I cooked oyster mushroom sauce his Christian and his girlfriend’s family one evening. Christian is a 27 year old “mushroom entrepreneur” and self-described founding father of mushrooms in Rwanda. When he was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be a pastor to serve Rwanda. Later, he wanted to be a doctor. Now, he grows mushrooms, and sells fungus tubes (grow kits) to women in his neighborhood. Pastor, doctor, mushroom entrepreneur… he says all his dreams stem from the same desire to heal his community.

– Shaina Shealy