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There's a vast difference between my first kitchen and this one. But what has stayed the same is what makes the kitchen my favorite room no matter where or how I live—I believe the kitchen is the soul of a house. It's the place where people always seem to gravitate, to become more relaxed and approachable, more themselves: No matter how we're dressed or what we have on our feet, we're all kind of barefoot there. The kitchen is where we nourish ourselves and one another, and not only with food. A friend of mine suffered terrible earaches as a child and used to wake up crying from the pain; he always felt better when his mother said, "Why don't we go down to the kitchen and share an orange?" When I lost a good friend to cancer, I sat many hours at my kitchen table to try to make sense of things. Later, when I myself was dealing with a troublesome diagnosis, where do you think I sat and held my husband's hand to tell him all my fears? Each of us has a memory of having some primal need satisfied in a kitchen; perhaps we love to linger there because we hope that it will happen again—and again.

If you really want to know me, then come into my kitchen. Have a seat. Wait until I put on an apron. And then we'll really talk.

Berg's latest novel, Dream When You're Feeling Blue (Random House), was published in May 2007. Learn more about Elizabeth Berg and her Oprah's Book Club selection Open House.

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