julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

A Sinking Feeling…

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made Ratatouille? Well, in the interest of time, I didn’t tell you the whole story…sure, I recounted the parts about peeling the eggplant and cooking the vegetables in a pot on the stove. But I didn’t reveal the VH1 behind-the-scenes story…not because I didn’t want you to know, but because I was in the throes of preparing for Ben’s birthday and my stress level was high enough without reliving the chain of events that ensued.

But now that everything is back to normal in the Edwards household and I’ve found my happy place, I’m finally ready to recount the tale of our kitchen sink.

I’ll begin by saying that I’ve always been overly cautious about what goes down the garbage disposal. Unlike my husband who, one Thanksgiving, put the giblets down the sink without telling me – when I flipped the switch to activate the disposal, I cannot begin to describe to you the horrific scene that followed which left our sink full of smelly yuck that looked to be a leftover prop from a Wes Craven movie. *shudder*

So there I stood, peeling eggplant into the kitchen sink with Ratatouille on the brain, thinking nothing of the purple skins left behind. Later, as the main course baked in the oven, I began working on Ben’s carrot cake, peeling the carrots into the sink along with the eggplant leftovers. The kitchen was a war zone (as always) and when I finally had all dishes under control, I scooped egg shells and peelings down the drain and turned on the garbage disposal.

And then I noticed something odd.

My first inkling that something was wrong...

The sink was slowly filling up with water. Thinking I hadn’t let the disposal run long enough, I ran it again…and the sink continued to fill with water. Rats. I reached warily down into the drain, feeling around for something that may have escaped my attention and was blocking the water from going down – and then, to my horror, the garbage disposal flipped on with my hand down the drain!!!

Okay, that didn’t really happen. But don’t you always kind of worry that it will?

There was nothing causing a blockage, and I didn’t have time to worry about it, so I continued on with my recipes. When Ben came home, I felt bad greeting him with, “Hooray! You’re home! The sink’s backed up.” It was his birthday weekend, after all. But not to worry! He emerged from the doorway armed with a plunger – my hero! While I tended to the miscellaneous items I had in the oven, he plunged away at the sink, the whole time saying, “Boy, don’t you feel more and more like Julie Powell??” Ugh. But I wasn’t worried. If anyone could fix the drain, it would be my husband.

Uh...should I be concerned about the color of the water in the bowl??

Only the plunger didn’t seem to do the trick. So we took a peek at the pipes down below and were a little alarmed to see water coming out of the pipe that led from the disposal. This couldn’t be good. I slipped a large bowl beneath the pipes, and Ben loosened them to let the remaining water out of the sink. That was a good start!

And then he pulled the pipes apart, and…oh, dear…it was obvious who the culprit was.

The pipe was packed with bits of carrot and eggplant, and other random bits of foods. Note to self: don’t peel vegetables in the sink anymore. Ick. Ben cleaned out the pipe and screwed it back into place…but still the plumbing wasn’t working right. And it was then that we noticed the hole that had burst in one of the other pipes from the pressure of the plunger. (Have I mentioned that these pipes are 21 years old?) Oops.

What's orange and purple and smelly all over?

My first thought was, “How much will this cost to fix?” And my second thought was, “How can I wash all these dishes??” Ben was able to rig the pipes so that I could run the dishwasher with no problems, however we had to block off the other half of the sink until we could replace the pipe with the hole. It’s always something, I tell ya.

In case you don’t know, the inside of kitchen pipes STINK. And when you leave the pipes open overnight with nothing but a cabinet door to keep them concealed, WHOOIEE that stink permeates your entire kitchen. Talk about one unpleasant experience.

Luckily, it only took one inexpensive trip to Home Depot and a couple hours of manual labor, and we had brand new plumbing beneath our kitchen sink. Ben and his brother fixed it with no problems, and I’ve learned a score of valuable lessons:
1.) Don’t put peelings down the kitchen sink
2.) Julia Child’s recipes are causing my poor kitchen to work like it’s never worked before
3.) The recipes are going to be the easy part of this cooking challenge…it’s the destruction they cause that’s going to be the end of me.

-Jessica

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