Please allow me a moment to indulge in negativity. I shan’t be long.

Top 10 Most Hated Kitchen Tasks

10. spraying oil
I detest this task on several levels. First of all, I hate using this stuff because it comes in a pressurized can which one cannot recycle. In fact, I’m not even sure how one is supposed to conscientiously dispose of such a thing- does it get tossed in the pile of noxious substances that go to the fire department for disposal? or le landfill? At any rate, it’s not the recycle bin. Secondly, it sprays evenly only when it is held upright which goes against its purpose entirely. Thirdly, using it creates a circumference of oil slicked surfaces that always goes beyond the intended coverage. Example: spray a muffin tin while it sits on the counter; the result is an oil slicked tin plus counter top plus backsplash plus, as a bonus, any tools sitting in the near vicinity. So maybe you pick up the tin and hold it perpendicular to the floor, thereby trying to outsmart the can and reduce the spray radius but the result is a slick tin and, worse, a slick floor in the area of the spraying. I imagine that in commercial kitchens, where people where shoes and it is someone else’s job to swab the floor each night, the oil slick thing is not a nuisance but for those of us who wear socks on linoleum and who clean slightly less frequently, the oil slick area is a slippery, slippery hazard for days.

9. thinly slicing cheese without a cheese slicer
In truth, this task could be called “doing anything without the appropriate tool for the job”. Never, never will I ever be able to slice perfect, thin, even slices of cheese with just a knife. It is mathematically impossible.

8. toasting nuts
It’s not so much the toasting of the nuts that I hate but rather, the inexplicable forgetfullness that accompanies this task and which results in burned nuts every time. Manually toasting while cooking is a perfect example of multi-tasking at its worst. This delicate technique of gently coaxing the oil and flavour from the nuts requires both eyes and undivided attention, at least in my case. If there is any deviation from this formula, and there always is, the nuts will burn.

7. desparately dealing with frozen phyllo that hasn’t yet thawed completely
There are several layers to this mistake, the first of which must be obvious. The second layer of stupidity follows, in which I try to speed up the thawing process with a microwave/low oven/sunbeam, etc. This practice only produces mush, still frozen in the middle. If I am still desparate enough to try to use the phyllo at this point, there is only descent into frustration, vexation and surrender.

6. grating ginger
Loathsome chore, this takes forever, scrapes fingers and knuckles and leaves more ginger on the grater than in the bowl at the end. This fibrous root is barely tolerable when chopping, let alone trying to shave it into pulp.

5. separating paste from tamarind
This was a mistake I will only make once. The vile task of pulling the flesh off the tamarind root (it is a root, isn’t it?) requires more patience than I have to give. I bought tamarind in non-paste form because I couldn’t find it in paste form figuring that it couldn’t be that hard to extract the good part from the bad but I was most seriously wrong. Nobody has any business using whole tamarind so why is it even packaged and sold?

4. slicing soft bread
At first glance, this might seem as though it should belong to Number 9, “doing anything without the appropriate tool for the job”. However, I would argue that even with a long, sharp, serrated knife, soft, warm bread will effortlessly resist every effort to be sliced. It wobbles back and forth with every draw across its back, slowly shrinking under the pressure of the knife and smashing back into the dough from whence it came. Best to tear.

3. peeling fava beans
Who invented fava beans! The ratio of work to flavour is, like, 12:1. Open the pods to fish out the beans, boil the beans only to peel the skin each nugget for the meat. The bean provokes me, actually, because the skin has a seam that looks as though it should easily peel back along that line but it is a bitter, bitter deception. After enough of this torture, my fingernails feel as though they have been peeled back.

2. thyme
Wretched herb! Such delicate little leaves persistantly attached to such a woody stem. If only the leaves were less clingy or the stem more pliable, I wouldn’t bother with the de-stemming production but it cannot be. I must painstakingly peel the leaves off, very nearly one by one, in order to take advantage of them. If only they could be more like their easy cousin rosemary- so simple to fold the “leaves” backwards and pull them all off the stem in one broad stroke!

1. washing lettuce
This is, and has always been, the task I hate the very most in the kitchen. Boring beyond measure, finicky, dull, and time-consuming: washing any kind of leaves for consumption is to be reviled. We used to buy pre-washed stuff all the time but now, here in California, organic fare is never washed and we do not have a salad spinner. Leaves cannot be left wet after washing – it would so ruin a salad as to not bother having salad at all – and air-drying or towel-drying are wiltifying and ineffective, respectively. Without a spinner, I almost don’t want to have salad at all; it is simply not worth enduring my most hated kitchen task of all time.

One Response to “Griping”

  1. Kim Says:

    I’m no chef but one thing that makes grating ginger easier is to keep a root in the freezer. Just pull it out when needed and grate it up easily – no fuss, no muss, no grated knuckles!