The Knives Are Always Wet

Monday, December 31, 2007

This entry promises to be long and rambling. A busy week coupled with a cold has made me fall behind. Christmas in New Bern was a little less nuts this year because there was never one moment where everybody showed up in the same place. That is not to say that things were calm, just that the chaos was more diffused. My mother's rococo Victorian was decorated to the nines, it's dining room and living room transformed into restaurant on Christmas night. My parents live right around the corner from Tryon Palace which means that they live right around the corner Tryon Palace Seafood as well. I discovered this place years ago by smell. I was led to it by the exhaust of its fryers. It mainly sells fresh seafood to be cooked at home, but there is a tiny takeout counter where you can buy fried oysters, shrimp, scallops or fish fillets. Everything is fresh and splendid. My sister Deborah and I often buy shrimp and/or oysters to snack on as we maraud through the second hand stores that dot the downtown.

I returned to Chapel Hill to a gloriously clean kitchen. It is always as clean as I can keep it from day to day, but there is something exceptional about a kitchen where one has had the time to take high pressure hoses to the walls and corners. I've been doing this long enough to have made arcane observations about this sort of thing- like the fact that every morning in the silverware bins, the knives are always wet while the other flatware will be dry. This is because they are denser, and thus retain the heat of the dishwasher for a longer time than it takes to dry them. They then gather condensation. Or, that plastic wrap refuses to be swept along the floor by hot water when we clean under the stoves. The heat causes it to seize up like shrink wrap and to cling in place to the floor. Then overnight as it cools, it fluffs itself up again. When you look under the stoves the next morning, you can't understand how you missed so much trash. Then, there are corn shucks. When you grill corn in its husk, the outer leaves turn into lighter than air cinders. They fly everywhere. The heat in the air keeps them aloft amid the hanging pans or behind the hood. Then in the cooling late night they settle back down to be found the next morning. I could go on and on but I'll stop with a comment on the adhesive properties of cooked collards. Almost every morning, when I'm drying the knives, I invariably discover some silverware with bits of collards that the dish machine has been unable to dislodge. Never any other food-only collards. I often wonder if I should notify NASA or the Pentagon about the tenacity of this natural mucilage.

posted by Bill Smith at 3:37 PM


Blogger Annie said...

Hi Bill! Happy New Year!

I love your blog. I thought of you on New Year's Day when I put about 12 bay leaves in my black-eyed peas, a tip you gave to me many years ago.

Hope to see you soon. Take care, Anne Atwell

January 8, 2008 9:25 AM  

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