2003-07-23 - 1:19 p.m.
Vikings do not belong in kitchens.
That is probably an unfair generalisation. There are probably great herds of Vikings somewhere who are splendid cooks and excellent scullions and possessed of all sorts of other skills which would make them welcome in any kitchen. Let me rephrase:
The Viking to whom I am married does not belong in kitchens. Any kitchens, anywhere, and especially not my kitchen.
I am not a candidate for any housekeeping awards. I am inclined to clutter, as suspicious of a vacuum as my cats, too short to dust effectively and too clumsy to be safe using a stepladder. Many popular cleaning agents either shrivel my skin to parchment or break me out in hives. I arrange to have houseguests every so often because that motivates me to tidy up and very little else will.
But there is one room in which I am nearly impeccable. I keep a very clean kitchen. Spot cleaning is done as needed; thorough, electric range-dismantling, floor-mopping, counter-scrubbing cleanings are done once a week whether they need it or not. Things are put away. I will tolerate disorder elsewhere in my home, but not in my kitchen.
Ordinarily, I am the primary cook and dishwasher; the Viking, though well-intentioned and not wholly incompetent as a cook, tends to use every pot, pan, and mixing bowl in the house when preparing meals and breaks things when doing dishes. If I am too unwell or tired to cook, I send him out to fetch something already prepared.
I have to let him use the kitchen when he brews, however. There is just nowhere else in the house where he can do that. I don't wish to discourage him from brewing, but I wish I could send him elsewhere to do it.
Last night he planned to bottle a beer he'd made. Bottling is a messy process, and by the time he was done, there was water all over the floor, various implements strewn around countertops and in the sink, and a carboy in the bathtub (the sink is not capacious enough to take the carboys, so he cleans those in the bathroom. Fortunately the tub catches most of the runoff). There were also two cases of beer stacked right in front of my sink, making access difficult, and let's not forget the boxes of blueberry melomel which have been on the floor since April.
Having bottled his beer, he started a batch of cherry melomel. More implements were brought out. More messy things were done. By the time he was finished, there was not a square inch of countertop visible. Cherry juice and honey had joined the water and beer on the floor, and were sprayed over the cabinets as well. It was a mess, but he promised to tidy up, and even got out the mop.
This morning I got up and went to the kitchen to feed the cats. The beer had been moved to the middle of the room, so I could at least reach the sink. I deduce that he had in fact mopped, because I did not stick to the floor. I also deduce that he pitched the yeast last night. The carboy of proto-melomel had blown off the airlock, and there was cherry pulp on everything.
Did I mention that the cabinets and appliances are white?