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At My Kitchen Table: Washing Up

Every now and then, the dishwasher is empty when one of my dinner parties begins.* We're talking blue moons here. My Miele dishwasher, which I love, is set to run a perhaps needlessly thorough cycle that takes nearly two hours to complete. I cannot operate it at the same time as any other high-amp appliance, such as the water kettle or the microwave. This means that, in order to use them, I have to pull the dishwasher open. Quite often, I forget to close it again, and the dishes drip midcycle for a while. As a rule, when one of my dinner parties begins, the dishwasher is stuffed with bowls and utensils that I've used to make dinner, and I've just turned it on. And just because the dishwasher is full of pots and pans doesn't mean that the stove and kitchen counter aren't as well.

That's why, when I clear the table between courses (often just an entree and dessert), I take the plates out onto the balcony, where they usually sit until the next day. Here's how I clean up after a dinner party.

When everyone has gone, if I still have the energy, I empty the dishwasher (which would be easy enough if it didn't involve putting everything away), and fill it up with whatever's dirty in the kitchen. If there is any extra room, I clear as glasses and the dessert plates as the kitchen stuff leaves room for. I turn the dishwasher on and tidy up the kitchen. Then I go to bed.

The next morning, I empty the dishwasher and clear whatever's left on the table. Only when the dining area has been completely straightened up do I bring in whatever's out on the balcony. If I've had a big dinner, with more courses or more guests, the dishes from the balcony will fill the third load to run after the dinner.**

In a nutshell, my cleanup begins near the dishwasher and works outward. I must confess that the process can take several days. I've got a blog to write!

* For quite some time now, my only dinner guests have been Ms NOLA and M le Neveu, but I hope to broaden my reach in 2007. We did have Fossil Darling and LXIV last Sunday.

** Silver is washed by hand, as are certain fancy plates that I don't use too often. I also hand-wash what's left of my mother's wedding crystal. I think we've broken two stems over the years, which is amazing.


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Our dishwasher takes two hours to run a cycle too. Bosch. What's with those damn Germans and their long dishwasher-cycles? Just how sterile do our dishes need to be, anyway?

German appliances are soooo thorough, aren't they? All New Yorkers have dishwashing coping mechanisms; I often slip platters and tureens under the sofa or bed till after guests have left. Even those large Fifth Avenue spreads have their secret butler's pantries stacked high during and after a meal with dinner debris. The fancier households, blessed with fine service ware, often require, as RJ knows, copious hand washing. Most guests little realize that this is the true gift from their dinner party hosts.

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