Sunday, 9 January 2011

Aliens in the Kitchen

Its a weird experience, house sitting for friends.  Even people you know extremely well, and who seem pulse-stoppingly normal,  turn out to live lives that are utterly outlandish and alien when compared to your own.  All the things I think are essential to daily life are frequently absent from others', and vice versa.  And this is most apparent in other people's kitchens. 

A friend who is a great foodie always complains that I don't keep pliers in my kitchen.  He believes they are cooking essentials - for taking bones out of fish, apparently! (He's a bit picky about my potato peeler too!) 

I can't cook without my trusty aprons, which get quite disgusting and stained, because I am incredibly clumsy and spill everything down  me.  For example, today, house sitting for friends in Overstrand, I managed to sling a whole egg across the kitchen and break it (and hang it simultaneously) on the handle of their fabulous new range cooker.  That takes some doing, believe me.  Without an apron, I end up looking like an explosion in a paint factory, so I can't understand how anyone else lives without one - but not one of those plasticized ones, they're a nightmare, but that's for another post! 

Because we live 2 miles from the nearest shop, and 4 from the nearest supermarket, a freezer and microwave for us are absolute essentials that we could not manage without for storing and defrosting.  But we have friends who refuse to have a microwave in the house - it destroys the flavours, they say - and other friends whose only freezer is a tiny freezer compartment in the second fridge (!) they keep in an outhouse, which is used for ice cubes and sliced lemons for their gin and tonics.

All this seems peculiar in the extreme, but nothing compares to the infinite variety that is washing up in someone else's house.  Everyone uses a different scrubbing or wiping  instrument, some people don't have bowls in their sinks, and one or two believe that drying up is insanitary. I've washed up in one house where the owner insisted that every item had to be thoroughly rinsed down with hot water in a separate sink to remove carcinogens left from the washing up liquid.  And that's before you even consider the complex dance of etiquette that is using the dishwasher - should you rinse by hand before packing, do you include glasses, do you rinse between meals, even if you aren't doing a full wash, do you put pans in, do you put plates on the top shelf or only glasses and mugs,  etc etc etc.

And don't even get me started on the subject of knives!

So a word of advice.  You won't discover your best friends are aliens until you house sit for them.  But if you do, you'll discover you are clearly an alien too.

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