The Critic is really one in a million. He's an incurable romantic who likes to surprise me with big Christmas gifts that make me go "WOW". Ideally, they have to be fun gifts and completely unrelated to mundane tasks like cleaning. He felt he was walking a thin line last year when he gave me a gorgeous cherry red Kitchenaid, but I was delighted. Cooking and baking are not a chore to me (duh) and the only negative feeling I had about THAT gift was a guilty conscience for requesting - and getting - something so extravagantly expensive for Christmas.
This year, he mentioned several times that he was disappointed because he hadn't found a gift with the "WOW" factor for me at Christmas. I pointed out to him (and it shut him up) that it was thanks to his insistence and generousity that I was able to say goodbye to my father before he died, and that this might be considered a more precious gift than anything else he could buy. But it must have still been bothering him at some level. Or maybe he just got tired of fighting with a sink full of soaking dishes every time he wanted to fill the water filter jug in the kitchen. Whatever the reason, he went out a few days ago and bought me a magical, wonderful machine: a dishwasher that actually works.
The Candy machine (a.k.a. "That Useless Waste of Space in the Kitchen"), which we bought three years ago, required you to soak and scrape the dishes to the point where you could have just about skipped the machine entirely, if you wanted dishes to come out clean. Even then, if you foolishly forgot to properly prepare one dish in the load, little bits of half-washed food from that one dish would miraculously (think the miracle of the 40 loaves) spread over every single dish in the machine. Of course you couldn't just run the load again. No, at that point, you had to take out the entire load, soak everything (it had dried on the dishes by then), scrub again and start over.
But now I have a Bosch. It has a beautiful brushed chrome finish. (Ignore the blue in the photo: I was advised by the delivery men to leave it on the machine for 24 hours before peeling it off or some of the residue glue would stick to the machine.) The first test load included dishes that were scraped but not even rinsed, some of which had been waiting for over 12 hours to be washed - and at the end I had a machine full of sparkling clean dishes. I'm in heaven.
The thing is, a good dishwasher is as much a cook's tool as a KitchenAid. Without it, you are constantly cramped and messy - dishes piling up everywhere waiting to be properly prepared for the machine. With a good machine, you can just load as you go, clearing counter space as soon as you've finished with any utensil. By making my life easier, it will make my cooking more pleasurable.
I'm reminded of a comment made to me by a very hip woman I once worked for in Munich. She was very glamorous, a photographer's model and an actress, and, as it happened, the mother of the three children I was paid to look after. One day she drew me into the kitchen and showed me her mammouth American washer and dryer. "These are my most prized possessions!" she proudly told me. Young fool that I was, I just stared at her, at a loss for words. But now I know. I know the sorrows of washing machines that can't dissolve caked on mud and only hold a half a laundry basket of clothes. I know about dryers that can heat an entire apartment for 24 hours without actually succeeding in drying a single pair of jeans. (I insisted on a good quality washer and dryer when we bought.) And I know about dishwashers that increase instead of decreasing your workload.
And now I know the heaven that is A Dishwasher That Works.
Thanks to a husband in a million. And he won't even let me count it as a Christmas present or an anniversary present. Truly priceless.