Monday, December 26, 2005



I could have posted about the stunning rolled pork loin my brother roasted yesterday, or the foie gras with port reduction pinxhos I knocked up, or even the sherry trifle that nephews and nieces demanded, made with pan d'oro. I could have even posted about the amusing brasserie vs brassiere mix up from Christmas Eve's post. However, as much as I'd love to, and I probably will at some point, I wanted to reflect on the moment at the end of the meal since I'm feeling, as the French say, with their usual brilliant economy of phrasing, "grey livered". When I say the end of a meal, I mean right at the end. After the coffee. Washing up. I have to admit inspiration came from Kate Bush's new song Mrs Bartolozzi, a classic Kate song about the emotional depths that a new washing machine can plunge one into. So that got me thinking about washing dishes.
The dishwasher has made familial dishwashing a very rare occurrence. It's rare that you get that chain gang of parents, siblings or friends formed up around the sink pulling gleaming plates from the sparkling suds and into waiting tea towels. And to be honest given that it is a colossal pain in the arse most of the time, that's all for the good, though I find there is something quite satisfying about cleaning down work surfaces. However, at Christmas, when the sheer weight of things that need cleaning after the meal means that you can actually enjoy doing the washing up. Swigging at a glass of wine in the company well fed and hopefully relaxed family members is quite a laugh. The actual cooking can be fraught, as my brother told me earlier in the day when I told him to chill out during a tense moment in the kitchen, "This is NOT about relaxing." Breaking things down and washing dishes is a reflective time. It's a meditative time, resetting the kitchen, putting things where they should; a kind of psychic stock take, you can tell a great deal about a persons mood by the way they put cutlery back in a drawer and even more by the way they dry a sauce pan.


Sam said...


Your posts are the dogs...

you can come and do my washing up anytime. I am sure I can arrange a big enough mess for it to be satisfying and worth your effort. Will even provide wine of your choice for accompaniment.

Slacker Mom said...

I just happened along your blog, and read the most recent post.

I have to say that I agree with you.

When we all eat at my aunt's house, we have to wash the dishes by hand. She has a tiny pantry, and all the women are jammed in, packing leftovers, scraping dishes, doing the washing and the drying. We have the best conversations in that tiny pantry. There is more laughter and fun doing that work than probably during the dinner itself.

Just my 2 cents.

cookiecrumb said...

How can you make the end of a tense day, coming down by doing chores, sound so convivial? What a lovely microcosm.

(Back off, Sam! I called dibs.)

Sam said...

CC - this is the season of GOOD WILL AND SHARING, remember.

cookiecrumb said...

I'll share. *sniffle*

drbiggles said...

Keeripes. My dishwasher has run every day for 5 days now and I'd love someone to come in and help clean/wash/dry up. Nope. From cooking to cleaning to drying and wiping clean it's Biggles. While I love a clean, neat & sparkling kitchen, getting there is not half the fun. Sorry. No.
However, the result allows me to sleep at night.