Tuesday 10 December 2002

Water, water, everywhere… and not a drop to drink

AKMA wrote:

Margaret spotted this story in the New York Times this morning, and she thought immediately of Jonathon and me.

Aside. I wanted to start this entry by referring to AKMA’s wife directly but that seemed too informal (given that all my dealings with the Adam family have been via AKMA). I was then at a loss as to whether to refer to AKMA’s spouse as “Mrs AKMA,” “Mrs Adam,” “Ms Adam,” “Mrs Margaret Adam,” “Ms Margaret Adam,” “Margaret Adam,” or by the various permutations of her maiden name with or without “Margaret” and/or “Ms.”

The story in question is about the dishwashing technology employed by actress Kate Burton, to wit a “pot scrubber” from Chicago Faucets. One would be hard pressed to imagine anything less like the “friendly and practical Dishmatique,” given that it is:

a 44-inch-long loop of stainless steel that works something like a garden hose. Press the lever and water sprays out in a relentless torrent. Food flies off pots and pans and disappears, swirling, down the drain.

Chicago Faucet pre-rinserI had mixed feelings about Ms Burton’s apparatus as I read the story. At first I disapproved since the device appears to waste prodigious amounts of water.

I spent many of my childhood holidays on a cattle station in the far west of NSW where I quickly learned that water is our most precious resource. Ever since then I’ve been parsimonious in my use of water, always trying to recycle as much as possible—a habit that has led to occasional disagreements with my Japanese friends, since I’ve yet to meet a Japanese who doesn’t believe that water is almost as abundant as air.

(Water restrictions have come into force in Sydney in the last few days. In this Sydney Morning Herald op-ed piece, writer Paul Sheehan describes the critical shortage of water Australians face—even though Sydney residents have reduced their consumption by a third over the last 20 years. He also explains some water-saving strategies he and his wife have adopted.)

After reading more of the Kate Burton profile, I realized that her pot scrubber actually saved water by forcing hot water through a faucet containing 32 tiny holes.

But then my admiration evaporated. She’s not using it to save water but merely to rinse the pots and plates—admittedly its intended purpose—before she puts them in the dishwasher! Bzzzt. Thank you for playing, Ms Burton. Go live in Central Australia for a few years.

In any case, the prize for using hot water under pressure for washing dishes in Blogaria goes to Kevin Marks, who reported in my comments on November 19th:

My favourite gadget for washing-up is the steam cleaner Rosie just bought. It is a big tank with a heating element inside, and a long hose with interchangeable nozzles. You can clean anything with high-pressure steam…

As long as you can assure me that those plates go straight onto the drying rack!



they may call it a pot scrubber, but when I worked in a restaurant kitchen we called it the hot hose. great for washing the dishes, pots and pans, and also the floor! In my dream kitchen, I'll definitely have a floor drain.

Posted by: Anita Rowland on 10 December 2002 at 02:03 AM

That is one scary kitchen device. The Darth Vadar of kitchen cleaning.

Australians have reduced water use by a third? That is highly impressive.

Posted by: Shelley on 10 December 2002 at 12:21 PM

My wife and I disagree about water use all the time:

she: from the desert side of Washington State, USA

me: from the verdant, too-often raining east coast of the US

I'm still trying to get used to it. :-)

Oh, and when I worked at a bagel shop, we loved the pot scrubber. It's particularly useful for getting hunks of semi-dried dough off of trays.

Posted by: Jim on 11 December 2002 at 01:27 PM

Jim, most of my disagreements have been with Japanese girlfriends who'll quite happily use five gallons of water to wash two tomatos and some lettuce leaves.

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 11 December 2002 at 10:28 PM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2002-2003 Jonathon Delacour