Both are simple in concept, do very simple tasks using reliable technology, and yet, why is it neither one ever seems to work quite right?
Why will a toaster oven work forever, lasting so long, it sits as a proud anachronism in the midst of more modern gadgets? Yet, a toaster has but one job, and it will fail to fire on both sides, or not pop up until the smoke alarm goes off. You put up with the toaster because you paid good money for it, and by god...it should work! So there it sits, and every morning the toast takes twice as long because the thing fires on only one side so it’s now a two cycle operation.
The salad spinner is even more baffling. A simple, hand cranked centrifuge, with a slotted basket demonically designed to not allow the water to leave. Or the gears that don't quite mesh. My favorite, is our Hyram the Idiot salad spinner. The Hyram spinner is operated by a pull string that either snaps back and takes your fingers with it, or it brings the bowl to a screeching halt sounding like a wounded car clutch. Now that I think about it, Hyram is no idiot spinner, he is a master trickster just waiting to defeat you.
Have you ever lusted for a brand new kitchen, with matching pots and pans, gleaming silver bowls and a battery of wooden spoons? It’s like lusting for a pretty boy in a magazine. He looks good, he’s smooth and perfect, but missing the intrigue that comes with a well placed scar or shaggy beard.
My kitchen has history: a wooden spoon with a piece that went missing in a lentil stew and was never found, a paring knife with a broken tip from the time Arturo used it to open an oyster, the glass funnel with the little bit of a broken spout that now fits perfectly into the olive oil bottle.
Last week I went to visit Bon Appetit’s spanking new test kitchen. Glass fronted cabinets filled with chic appliances and lit by discreet spots, gleaming marble counters, polished copper pots artfully piled in a heap, and lit candles twinkling. (Yes, the candles were lit and twinkling.) It was a soothing spa environment that had magically morphed into a dream kitchen.
Off to the side was the real kitchen, with a scratched stainless counter, banged up pots and a few dishes in the sink. All of us visibly relaxed as we entered this kitchen where you had a sense that real food was actually being prepared.
I’d much rather be in a funky kitchen with a quirky stove (and lord knows I’ve tangled with plenty of quirky stoves!) than in a kitchen that could double as a museum.
I’ll take the adage, “You are what you eat” one step further, “A kitchen tells the tale”. If your kitchen is gleaming, spotless, with everything in its place, then I guess you haven’t used it lately.
Live a little, go make a mess in your kitchen!