The Secret Society of Iron Dishwashers

August 17, 2011
By PenguinFeet GOLD, Bellevue, Washington
PenguinFeet GOLD, Bellevue, Washington
19 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah, well, who but the mad would choose to keep on living? In the end, aren't we all just a little crazy?" - Dulcie, in Libba Bray's Going Bovine

“Hey, want to make avocado bread?”
“Sure,” I answer, and my sister and I whirl into a baking frenzy with a flurry of sifted flour and a smear of mashed avocado. Twenty minutes later, we have beaten, whisked, and mixed to our hearts’ contents; the bread is in the oven, the timer is set, and the dishes are piled into the sink. My sister goes to watch an episode of Iron Chef America in her room.
It is my duty to wash the dishes--the lowliest, most irritating of chores. I appraise the three dirty bowls before me. The first is stainless steel, coated in thick batter. The second is comparatively clean, slightly dusty and grainy from the dry ingredients, but a quick sponging and rinse will suffice. The third has had raw egg in it—better wash it well.
Sighing, I roll up my sleeves and try to keep my hair from dipping into the dishwater as I scrub at the greasy spots. My arms move automatically: fill the first bowl with hot water to help melt the batter off the sides. Pour the dirty water into the second bowl, then with two squirts of soap on the sponge, wash away the rest of the batter. Rinse. Half a squirt of soap for the second bowl. Three circular motions to wash the bottom. Rub around the rim, then around the sides three times. Rinse. Now, one pump of soap for the third bowl. Use the rough side of the sponge for the crusted parts and scrub hard. Check if the egg is gone with the pads of your fingertips. Rinse.
I stare at the neat stack of perfectly spotless bowls with increasing indignation and swelling pride. Dishwashing requires precision, agility, and pragmatism. The best washers are strategic, energetic, and unafraid of work. Who’s to say we deserve less praise? We’ve mastered an extremely useful craft that few people, if any, consider worthwhile. we’re a marginalized population, driven back and beaten down by the elite cooking folk.
I pick up a cookbook and shake my head disdainfully at Bobby Flay. Iron Chefs. Sure, they can throw together a couple recipes and turn bacon into a gourmet meal. But do they know how to pry charred fish from the bottom of a cast-iron pan? Can they figure out how to wash melted chocolate out of a tall glass? Indeed, what would they use to cook if we did not clean their pots and pans?
Sufficiently reassured that my work is valuable and important, I lean back against the kitchen counter and grin to myself. My sister has no idea that I am, rather than lowly and servile, extremely powerful.
I hereby extend encouragement to all highly-skilled, under-appreciated, over-worked dishwashers of the world: take heart, fellow soldiers. The Secret Society of Iron Dishwashers is gaining recognition and momentum. Plate wipers, bowl cleaners, silverware polishers unite! Soon, we will wash our hands of our lowly kitchen status and become the kings and queens of the culinary world. Have faith, friends. Stay strong. Rinse well.

The author's comments:
Whatever you do, own it.

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