Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wanted: Better Kitchen Help

A Pile of Carrot Peels

Dear George,
Katja was cooking a pot roast the other night and asked me to give her a hand.  I was sort of surprised.  Katja rarely asks me to help cook because she thinks I lack basic skills.  This time, though, she was working on the onions, and she needed me to peel a pound of carrots.  I went to the refrigerator and found a bag of shredded carrots, but Katja said she didn’t want those.  She said I should peel raw carrots instead.  I didn’t understand why shredded carrots weren’t just as good, but I put them back and got the bag of raw carrots.  Katja added that I could put the carrot peels in the sink.  I asked how many carrots were in a pound; Katja said seven.  I started in on the first raw carrot.  I was amazed at how long it takes to peel a large carrot.  I took off the first layer, then the second, then the third, etc.  There must be at least twelve layers to an adult carrot.  Soon I had an impressive pile of orange peels in the sink.  Finally there was nothing left of the first carrot except a thin, pencil-like core.  It was too flimsy to peel any further, so I ate it and started in on the second carrot.  When I was about halfway done, Katja looked over and asked, “What are you doing?”  The sink basin was covered with an inch or two of peelings.  “I’m peeling the carrots,” I said.  “I’m putting them here in the sink.  That’s what you told me to do.”  “I don’t want the peels,” Katja said.  “We throw them away.  I just want the peeled carrots.  Just peel the carrots.”  “Oh”, I replied.  I was silently relieved that she hadn’t said, ‘Just peel the carrots, you idiot.’  Of course, I do know how to peel a carrot.  I’d just gotten off on the wrong track.  There were so many peels in the sink by then that I ate handfuls of them as I started over on a new first carrot.  It went much more quickly this time around.  When I finished all seven, I took the leftover carrot peels, along with Katja’s onion skins, and flushed them down the garbage disposal.  Katja thanked me for helping.  Relieved that I’d successfully finished my task, I snuck away before she had could think up any other challenging jobs.

The next morning I was working upstairs on the computer when Katja called up to say that the garbage disposal was clogged up.  I brought down the toilet plunger and worked on the sink for several minutes, but I couldn’t budge it even a millimeter.  Finally Katja called the plumber.  He tried plunging too, but wound up taking the pipes apart.  The bend in the pipe was solidly blocked with ground up onion skins and carrot peels.  “You should never put carrots or onion skins down the disposal,” he said.  I thanked him for the helpful tip.  It cost $90.  I decided that Katja probably doesn’t usually ask for my help because it costs too much.  We ate the pot roast for supper that night.  It was excellent.  The meat was tender, the onions were tasty.  The carrots were the best.  If we’d had the same meal at a fine restaurant, we would have paid more than $90.  I felt better.  Everything had turned out o.k. after all.

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