Following up on my previous link about the Soviet effort to abolish private kitchens in homes and the establishment of communal kitchens, NPR discussed the next chapter in everday Soviet life -- which was the return of the private kitchen after Stalin's death. A part of the "thaw generation" was the return of private space, and thus private life -- where conversation was free and the discussions ranged from politics, to literature, to music and art. Dissident culture in many ways founds its way in Soviet kitchens.
When I was a visiting scholar at the Russian Academy of Science in 1993, one of my best memories is drinking vodka, and eating brown bread with pickles and sausage from mid-afternoon till past midnight in the apartment of a Soviet dissident economists and his friends who ranged from academics to publishers to policy makers. I actually drank too much vodka, but subriety came suddenly when upon leaving for the walk home I was confronted with the cold air of January in Moscow.
One of my most cherished comments I ever received for my work on Soviet and post-Soviet economy was when a Russian economists in Moscow sent me a congratulatory note about my book, Why Perestroika Failed, and told me that my book described the reality of Soviet economic life, including late-stage Soviet economic life under Gorbachev, accurately, and it was the world that they discussed at the kitchen table, rather than the world too often discussed in textbooks and on blackboards. In the context of this story about Soviet kitchens, which I understood then and now, that comment was very high praise for someone fixated as I was (am) on capturing the political economy of everyday life rather than the idealizations of economic and political life.