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I used to cook in butter-smeared chaos. Now I’m a competitive kitchen cleaner

Cook

I appear to have developed late-onset tidiness. As a younger, ever-questing cook, the four words that made my lip curl were: “Tidy as you go.” It was hard enough to beat and whip and emulsify as I went, without worrying about the whole tidying business too. It was an utterly joyless phrase; the sort uttered when I was a kid by one of those flinty, disappointed schoolteachers who drained every subject of joy and who indicated by their sneers that if you applied yourself and did your very best you would still amount to nothing. Sod tidying as you go. I was cooking, with a capital C. Bring on the butter-smeared chaos.카지노사이트

Now, in my grey-bearded years, I have changed. I’m not just tidying as I go. I’m mopping and wiping and washing as I go. I am attempting to erase any record of any cooking having taken place, while actually cooking. Note the use of the term “late-onset” in my description of this habit. It is an attempt to pathologise the behaviour, to make it something external to myself or beyond my control, so I can view it quizzically in a detached manner. It is obviously not a pathology, nor any sort of compulsion. Those can be life-limiting and should not be joked about.

But I do find what I’m doing more than a little weird. Partly it was enabled by me finally seeing the light and accepting, after almost 30 years, that dishwashers were not the devil’s work but really quite useful. Even allowing for the fact that, until you turn them on, a dishwasher is just a cupboard you hide the mess in, it’s still a very handy cupboard. What a dumbass I was.

However, what I’m doing goes much further than that. I am hunting down gaps in the process: the mirepoix is gently sauteing, which gives me time to wash that bowl; the sauce is reducing, so I can get that stick blender sorted; ooh, I have 90 seconds while that chop is searing in which to get rid of all the filthy ladles and spatulas. After much thought I’ve clocked what’s happened here: I’ve gamified the process of cooking. I’ve turned it into a competition.

The fact is that uncontainable cooking messes are your workings in the margin; a symbol of what it took to pull it off. If you put plates of great food on the table for everyone to hoover up it’s always received gratefully, despite the explosion of greasy bowls and the tumbles of spice jars and vegetable peelings left across the work surfaces behind you. But how much better, how very much cooler and more elegant if your marvellous creations arrive and there’s no sign whatsoever of anything having happened to create them. What? This huge paella? These extravagantly tumescent orange and rosemary souffles? Just a little something I knocked together. Enjoy, my darlings. Enjoy.바카라사이트

We have a rule in our house. Whoever cooks, doesn’t wash up. I started delivering dinner to the table and then airily waving at the spotless kitchen behind me, silently indicating the words: “You seriously owe me.” Now my wife was doubly in my debt; another small battle in the war of long marriage had been won. Then one day it was her turn to cook, a process which usually led to scenes akin to the aftermath of a minor, crockery-dislodging earthquake. Not today. Everything was cleaned and away. She saw me clock it, and nodded slowly as if to say: “Not that hard, is it?” I had been rumbled. I had been seen. The age of competitive kitchen cleaning had arrived. Game on.

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