Kitchen life from start to finish. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about self-care at the dining table, and specifically about preparing good and healthy food when we eat by ourselves. However, in that same post, I also mentioned that, for a long time, I considered the process of cleaning the kitchen and washing the dishes a waste of time and resources, especially if when I was the only to have eaten. But don’t we shower and brush our teeth even when we don’t see anybody on that day?

When I lived by myself, my relationship with food was troubled and unhealthy. Even when recovering from anorexia and bulimia, in the kitchen I was lazy; I couldn’t see the point in wasting time chopping, steaming, baking, washing dishes and pans for my lonely dining.

Today the kitchen is for me source of bliss, creativity, and work; today I am able to see, in washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen after a meal, a new and meaningful function.

kitchenOf course, I do have a dishwasher; I use it every day.

However, when we cook for many people, or when the prep time for our dish requires numerous tools, pans, etc. the dishwasher alone won’t do. And the idea that machines alone aren’t capable of replacing humans in every task gives me reassurance and hope for the future; I don’t like where we’re headed, and I don’t like the vision of the mechanical world that is slowly taking over. I want to drive my car; I want to peel my own carrots. I want to brush my teeth without a voice whispering how well or not I am doing it, and I want to replenish the fridge when I think groceries are due.

So I do like to wash the dishes, and I do it almost every night while my husband clears the table and prepares the garden for the night. He does it too, especially if I am tired, but I must say that the running water over my soap-covered hands has become somewhat meditative, like peeling garlic or cracking walnuts. So we often end up doing it together. Washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen after dinner helps me digest, it helps me keep my ‘station’ clean and under control, and it brings closure to the cooking journey that begun with the washing of produce and the boiling of water in a pot.

At the sink it starts, and at the sink it ends.

Sometime we are tired nonetheless, and washing the dishes takes effort and attention. So I try to find new ways to make it more of a pleasant task than a chore. Music is always good, of course. We do dance and sing, from time to time. But I am firm believer in the power of silence, too.

A drink makes everything better, I used to say in the old days.

Unfortunately I had too many, so today I have found new sober ways to make everything better in the kitchen.

kitchenDuring the winter season, for example, I make myself and my husband a hot cup of tea; I like fresh ginger, he loves peppermint and chamomile. But when the weather is warm, and when we also want to satisfy our sweet tooth, I make agua fresca with the fresh fruit I have in my fridge and with the aromatic herbs I grow in my garden.

This writing got me thinking: doesn’t the cooking journey resemble a lot our daily life? There are things we have to do, whether we like it or not. Some of them will always be a chore, like getting gas or going to the DMV, but others may well reveal themselves to be more fun and entertaining than we had thought them to be. And with something sweet to accompany them, the task can taste is sweeter.

What did Mary Poppins say?

You can find the recipe to make my strawberries/rosemary and cucumber/lime agua fresca on the RECIPE page.




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