The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges between then USA Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibit at Moscow’s Sokolniki Park on 24 July 1959.
For the exhibition, an entire house was built that the American exhibitors claimed anyone in America could afford. It was filled with labor saving and recreational devices meant to represent the fruits of the capitalist American consumer market.
The exchange was recorded on color videotape, a new technology pioneered in the U.S.; during the debate Nixon pointed this out as one of the many American technological advances. He also boasted achievements such as dishwashers, lawnmovers, supermarkets stocked full of groceries, Cadillac convertibles, makeup colors, lipstick, spike-heeled shoes, hi-fi sets, cake mixes, TV dinners and Pepsi-Cola.
It was Nixon’s emphasis on America’s household appliances, such as the dishwasher, that helped give the event its title, “The Kitchen Debate.” Nixon knew that these were things, common in the West, but out of reach for the vast majority of Soviet citizens.
Both men argued for their country’s industrial accomplishments, with Khrushchev stressing the Soviets’ focus on “things that matter” rather than luxury. He satirically asked if there was a machine that “puts food into the mouth and pushes it down”. Nixon responded by saying at least the competition was technological, rather than military.
Внимание! (Attention/Warning) Most Russian kitchens you’ll encounter are not as modern. This photo is taken from a remodeled Moscow apartment. We chose this photo for as much to showcase things you may find in a kitchen as for things not found in most Russian/Ukrainian kitchens.
Starting at the bottom: the wood floor is an added upgrade. Most standard construction features include a rolled out floor. Wood and tile are certain upgrades, usually added later after construction is completed. From the bottom left to right: The giveaway that this was a more recent remodel is–you guessed it, the double stainless sink. Far more Russian kitchens have a single sink configuration.
Next is something almost never found in older apartments–an automatic dishwasher. This is uniquely modern. Next are the wood drawers. If this is like most other kitchens, those are probably the only drawers in this kitchen. As you can see from the wall above the counters, Russian housewives generally love to hang their utensils on display rather than hide them in a drawer.
This is followed by a very modern electric stove-top with an oven. Just a comment on the abundance of cabinets–by Russian standards this is a very large configuration of cabinets. Most housewives would dream of such spacious cabinet space.
Working our way back from right to left: Microwaves have become common in younger family kitchens but if you visit Russia, don’t automatically expect to see a microwave in the kitchen. First off, even at $80 dollars, a microwave is likely equal to a retired adult’s monthly government pension. Thats a lot of money just to warm up food, especially in a culture that is not fast-food oriented and in which most meals are actually prepared and cooked, not opened from a package.
Then you have the issue of what a microwave does to food. While we have one in our Phoenix home, our Moscow apartment does not. A lot of Russian housewives are convinced that a microwave does more harm than good to food.
Next to the microwave is a toaster. Definitely the sign of a young family. Toasting bread isn’t part of Russian tradition so lots of Russian kitchens have no use for a toaster.
Then to the left of the toaster is a чайник. Some mistakenly call it a tea pot because of the word чай (tea). It’s a чайник all right, but tea is never made inside the pot. This is an electric hot water pot, usually quickly boiling water for tea, but for other hot water uses too.
Do you see the oven hood? The burning question is where is that thing vented. Except for the very new apartment buildings most apartments were not pre-vented in the original construction. Some remodeling jobs are fortunate in finding easy outside access (I’ve seen venting go thru a kitchen window pane!), but usually it just goes up into the ceiling above and that is about as good as it gets.
Now, find the light installed above the counter. It’s white, just under the top cabinets left of the stove-top. This is a common add-on. You can buy these little light fixtures at kitchenware kiosks near most Metro stations. It has a couple of screw holes to attach to the undersides of the cabinet. We have one in our remodeled kitchen. Russian apartments don’t have an over abundance of electric outlets so this kitchen owner probably had to have an outlet run to one of the cabinet interiors where the light is plugged in out of sight.
A modern refrigerator is to the left, just out of sight of this photo. Finally, that tile back splash above the counters is an add-on too. Its a nice touch to this kitchen.
кухня = kitchen “KUKH-nya”
Холодильник = refrigerator “khala-DIL-nik”
морозильник = freezer “mah-rah-ZEl-nik”
духовкa = Oven “du-KHOF-ka”
Плита = stove “PLEE-tah”
стол = table “STOL”
стyл = stool/chair “STUhL”
микроволновая печь = microwave oven “mik-ra-vol-na-vaya PYE-ch”
лампa = lamp “LAhM-pa”
раковина = sink “RA-kavina”
тостер = toaster “TOE-styer”
кухонный шкаф = kitchen cabinet “KUKH-nee SHKAF”
Стиральная машина = (Clothes) Washing machine “Sti-ral-naya mah-zhina”