Never Bring A Knife To A Skillet Fight Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
I married a good man. Truth be told, I could do no better. And like any good couple, we have had our fights. Some for good reason, most for not. None, however, sticks out at me more than the one about my skillet.
My jumbo cast-iron skillet was my pride and joy. I cooked everything in it: cornbread, bacon and eggs, steaks, greens, pork loins, vegetables, sausage, hamburgers, fish, cobblers, you name it. It lived in the drawer under the oven, a climate in which it thrived. The frequent heat waves brought the baked-in greases to the surface again and again, allowing the accumulated flavors to reinforce and fortify. It was perfectly aged and perfectly seasoned.… until dear Husband.
Oh, dear Husband. I can never fault you for liking to clean up immediately after a meal. I can appreciate a clean and tidy kitchen, sure, but it’s never been a priority. In my family, a somewhat dirty kitchen is a used kitchen, and a used kitchen is a loved kitchen. The kitchen is where we congregate. It’s our living room. Or maybe I’m just lazy.
And nobody wants dishes piling up. I’m with you on that, really I am. But right after the meal? Let it be. Get it later, tomorrow even. Just don’t disturb my post-meal bliss. You are supposed to think I worked hard for that bliss.
In the beginning I relished in his need for cleanliness. It was a wonderful surprise, a total bonus … something I had no idea I was marrying into. It made those first few months of cohabitation great. I worked in my garden. He cleaned. I worked on “sit” and “stay” with our new puppy. He cleaned. I cooked. He cleaned. I’m certain I did other important things to keep my home but, ugh, all the cleaning!
That’s when things went south.
My food started burning. Drying out. Overcooking, yet undercooking. I couldn’t figure it out.
I was cooking the same. I was adding the same ingredients, the same amount of fats, salts and seasonings. I never needed to add too much, because the skillet took care of the flavor for the most part, a nice iron twang if you will. But something wasn’t right anymore, and I was getting upset, and Husband noticed. And, then, it came out.
He was washing my skillet. With dish soap. And leaving it to soak in the sink. Full of water. I could have died.
My skillet had belonged to my mother and, before that, her mother. Both of these women taught me how to cook. I inherited from them a laissez-faire attitude toward recipes (“who needs ’em”) and a skillet. Have I told you about my skillet? Have I told you about the decades’ worth of seasoning its cast-iron walls contained? That pan was my birthright.
It was given to me in college, or sometime in my roaming youth. We moved around a lot back then, my skillet and I. We went through too many apartments, too many roommates, too many ill-equipped kitchens to recall. It sounds silly, but that pan was one of the few constants in my life, my baby before I had a baby. Husband was hurting my baby!
I’m sure there was yelling, certain of it, in fact. I explained to him that you should never wash a skillet with soap. Or let it soak. Or really ever get it near a basin of standing water. “It’s not a dish, for god’s sake; it’s a skillet!”
The implications of it all were too overwhelming to comprehend. My cooking would never be fit to eat again. And, if my cooking was inedible, what did that say about me as a wife? As a woman? “To the kitchen, feminists!” is one of my favorite sayings, and I am a feminist.
Sure, I was being dramatic, but the whole thing felt so real.
Husband pointed out he didn’t know better; he didn’t grow up with a skillet. My friends pointed out I was insane to get mad over a spouse who cleans. My mother told me to get over myself.
They were all right, of course.
I reapplied a layer or two of oil and salt and, after only a few wipes clean, my skillet was just fine. All traces of rust gone. Everything back to normal. “You won’t even remember this … in five years …” and these days, my time is better spent holding my breath every time Husband weed-eats near my day lilies or my baby climbs atop the kitchen table thinking he is Superman.
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