I was making breakfast when the idea for “K” came to me. I opened the drawer underneath the oven to take out a small skillet. As I plunked it onto the burner, something jumped. I looked down and stifled a small scream as my brain turned this into a cockroach. Caterpillar? Bug.
My brain started going, “Eww, eww, gross – eww!” and as it sloooowly dawned on me what the thing actually was, I flashed back on “things found in other people’s kitchens” that had caused the same visceral disgust. Crumbs from the toaster, perhaps. A bit of thread mistaken for a hair. A bit of hair – my own – mistaken for the cook’s. Had it been so plainly written on my face as it was, this morning, in my own kitchen? I hope not.
In fairness, it could have been a cockroach. We do have an exterminator service quarterly, and they will re-treat, at no charge, if we see a bug in between their visits. A roach might have crawled into the drawer to die, I suppose, but it would be more logical to assume that a dying roach could not have made the climb, and would have died under the drawer. I’ve only seen about a dozen roaches in this house over two decades, despite living in the tropics where cockroaches grow big enough to saddle and ride.
My kitchen is clean. It’s not “Howard Hughes clean,” but neither is yours. It is probably cleaner than yours, in some ways; in others, you might find something – like this – that causes your brain to moan, “Ewwww!” But we clean after meals and we have a cleaning service weekly. I’d bet it’s cleaner than most commercial kitchens on inspection day, and we rarely ask for the “kitchen tour” when we visit our favorite restaurants or insist on seeing the inspector’s report. Maybe we shouldn’t think too hard on this when visiting friends and family.
Julia Child was famous for being messy in the kitchen. I found these photos, and the second one cracks me up. I’ll bet she found…things…in her oven drawer, from time to time.
So what was this…thing? (“Eww, don’t examine it, just squish it and throw it down the disposal!” urged my brain, in horror.) In spite of my brain’s recoiling till it had to be peeled off the back of my skull with a spatula, I leaned in and peered closely at “the thing.”
You see? It really is a matter of perspective and good lighting.
We had steak with mushrooms, last night. The “cockroach” was a bit of grilled, baby Portobello mushroom that must have fallen into the oven drawer and onto the tiny skillet while my husband cooked dinner. No big deal. I rinsed out the skillet and made breakfast, while singing Mrs. Crandall’s Boardinghouse, by The Irish Rovers.
I imagine my children, all grown, cooking us dinner in our own kitchen when we’re old and recoiling in horror at a glimpse of dehydrated Portobello mushroom in the oven drawer. It saddens me a little. Makes me laugh a little, too. I get it. We’ll see which wins out when I’m 90.
I did not add the mushroom to breakfast. I put that into the compost bin for Herman. Those little black specks? Freshly-ground black pepper, you heathens.
That said, I hear insects are an excellent source of protein. Which is good, because there seem to be plenty of them in the vegetable garden.