When I lived in Cabbagetown (a completely non-suburban place, in fact about as urban as you can get) in a row house with a Victorian exterior and early 1990s interior (which was perfectly fine because it was the early 1990s at the time), the kitchen was a white womb of hard surfaces. The cupboards were the white, shiny Italian kind, with no pulls because they would mar the pristine perfection; the countertop was pristine white marble, unmarred by seams of grey; and the floor was white ceramic tile in a herringbone mosaic. Stainless steel appliances were not yet in vogue, so those were all white as well. I had never had a kitchen with marble, nor ceramic, nor Italian cupboards before. The significance of this will become apparent shortly.
Before I bought it, my Cabbagetown house was gutted and renovated by a team of architects that spared no expense. It was aggressively open concept with only three doors, even though it spanned four levels including the finished basement. Thankfully, one of the doors was graciously granted to the largest of the three bathrooms. From the top level, where the sprawling main bedroom suite lived, you could see all the way down to the basement through the glass railing. I really liked that house, until I realized the “transitional” neighbourhood was never going to transition. But that realization took a while. And that’s another story.
I could not wait to cook something in my fancy kitchen. I walked out to the grocery store for a few provisions to make spaghetti for a housewarming dinner and unloaded them on the counter. The jar of tomato sauce slid off the glassy marble, landed firmly on the ceramic floor, and exploded, spewing red liquid on every white surface. Spaghetti was not served that night and I seriously contemplated adopting a diet consisting of only white foods.
I was reminded of this (the hard surface thing, not the white food thing) yesterday. My suburban kitchen conforms meticulously to requisite suburban kitchen attire. It has granite countertops, a marble floor, and lots of stainless steel. By this point, you’d expect I would be well-versed in hard-surface-kitchen protocols. You would be wrong.
Martha Stewart dictates that suburban kitchen countertops must be kept unsullied by utilitarian necessities. This means that, much like the fatwa against putting ketchup bottles on the dining table, dishwashing liquid bottles must not hang around near the sink. Instead, she suggests decanting the contents (which must be colour coordinated with the décor) into a glass bottle, like the kind you might use for olive oil, another thing that must not be seen in its original supermarket clothing.
Yesterday, I reached across the counter to retrieve a bowl (which, I admit, should not have been hanging around on top of the counter), and knocked over the dish soap bottle. It smashed to smithereens, sending glass shards flying as far as the cat food station and releasing an ooze of orange (sorry Martha) liquid onto the counter and floor, with splashes on the fridge for good measure. If you have ever tried to wipe up a dish detergent accident, you will know it carries about the same level of difficulty as a crude oil spill. And if you have ever tried to clean it off a stainless-steel surface, you will know that cleaning up crude oil is a job for amateurs.
The cat food languishing in the dishes, which is deemed inedible after five minutes of aging in place, needed to be chucked. Shards of glass will undoubtably show up for the next month, so I will need to remember to shod my bare feet when in the vicinity. If you count all the smashed wine glasses, floor-pies and lasagna that slid out of its dish, the score is roughly me zero, kitchen one zillion. Sorry Martha, I am not buying another glass bottle.