November 4, 2010

Kitchen Rules

People are full of rules. Sometimes they are aware of it and sometimes not. No area has such intense rules as around food, and hence the kitchen. Thus, the kitchen is the location of a great many little cold wars and quiet but strenuous struggles in community life. For example:

One brother thinks that there always has to be a box of plain crackers on the counter. Crackers are akin to cookies, right? The cookie jar is on the counter, so the crackers should be there too. Another brother thinks that crackers belong in a cool dry place like the cupboard. So the crackers are constantly about this round trip from counter to cupboard.

A similar pattern emerges with the dish soap. One brother thinks that dish soap is like hand soap; it belongs next to the sink. Another thinks that dish soap is more at home with the other cleaning products, which everyone knows go under the sink. So the dish soap is always about an analogous cyclical journey.

One brother thinks that the butter belongs outside of the refrigerator, another one in.

One brother believes that the sink rag must be folded square and laid over the divider between the two sides of the sink. Another one is convinced that it must be left in a triangle shape draping over the front. Still another is convinced that it is gross to use a rag more than once, and so rejects both options and puts all wet rags into the laundry basket.

One brother thinks that the dish drain rack is where you put clean dishes to dry. Another brother thinks that it's where you put dirty dishes that can't be put immediately in the dishwasher. Still other brothers, when they get to be superiors, avoid this whole ugly debate by forbidding dish drain racks altogether.

Another question is the nature of kitchen counters. One brother imagines that light food preparation can be done on the counter without the mediation of any other surface, e.g. you can put the two pieces of bread that will anchor your sandwich right on the counter and proceed to dress them. Another brother believes that the counter is the place where you have to put another surface, like a cutting board or a plate, whereupon you may then prepare food. The latter sort of brother comes to be tempted to indulge disdain for the former, thinking him gross. The same issue goes, similarly, on the question of whether you can leave directly on a counter the spoon or fork you had used to put something into a bowl before putting it the microwave, retrieving it afterward for eating purposes.


Anonymous said...

I don’t know much about that other stuff you mentioned, but I do know that the crackers should always be stored under the cheese and next to the wine(or ale!).

Matthew Ignatius said...


We've been forbidden from having butter anywhere but the fridge except for at dinner, otherwise the butter must always be hard. In postulancy, we kept one dish outside of the fridge and one in the fridge.

Here, some think the honey should be in the pantry, others think it should be kept in the closet with the cereal. It moves frequently.

Brother Charles said...

Honey is another one. And peanut butter.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like married life. The argument around my house seems moreso focused on the bathroom. Is toilet paper more efficiently ripped dangling over the top of the roll or hanging down the back of the roll?

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that hand soap is supposed to be out by the sink so you can wash your hands frequently while preparing the meal or for a quick wash up before meals.


ben in denver said...

It is fascinating what chaos ensues when there is not a woman in charge of the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me the story I heard of Monks sworn to silence, with the exception that in this Order, one Monk every year was allowed to utter a sentence.

#1 Monk 2008 "I think the mashed potatoes are too lumpy."

#2 Monk 2009 " I think the mashed potatoes are rather good."

@3 Monk 2010 : I can't stand this constant bickering."

Anonymous said...

OCD is very common in any household, It is rather annoying than funny. I suggest just look in the other direction, if one can not find it in its regular place.(BTW, we missed you in CSH)